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UCLA launches $20 million stem cell institute to investigate HIV, cancer and neurological disorders

Experts in bioengineering, imaging, molecular genetics, immunology, ethics, hematology/oncology and cellular biology to collaborate on Proposition 71 research

Drawing together experts from fields as diverse as engineering to molecular biology, UCLA officials announced March 16 the formation of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine to conduct embryonic and adult stem cell research that may lead to better treatments for HIV, cancer and neurological disorders.

"As one of the world's leading research universities, UCLA has long been engaged in adult and embryonic stem cell research with activities in areas ranging from the AIDS Institute to the Brain Research Institute to the UCLA College," said UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale. "The new UCLA Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine will enable us to continue fostering such interdisciplinary collaborations and to build upon the existing body of knowledge for the benefit of people worldwide."

UCLA will provide $20 million over five years to launch the campuswide institute, which will enable teams of researchers to compete for state grants created by the passage of Proposition 71. The money will pay for recruitment for a dozen new faculty positions, salaries and expansion of highly sophisticated laboratory space, infrastructure, and supplies.

Dr. Owen Witte, a renowned scientist whose laboratory research laid the groundwork for development of the targeted leukemia therapy Gleevec, is director of the new institute. He also stressed the interdisciplinary approach necessary to face the challenges related to stem cell research. "Embryonic stem cells have the power to develop into every type of human tissue," said Witte, who also is a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "If we can learn how they are regulated for growth and development, we can harness this knowledge to study tissue development and
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Contact: Elaine Schmidt
eschmidt@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2272
University of California - Los Angeles
16-Mar-2005


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