Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey

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McGreevey Creates Nation's First State-Supported Stem Cell Institute
- Institute to bring medical miracles to the world,
economic benefits to New Jersey -

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For immediate release contact:
Micah Rasmussen/Juliet Johnson
DATE: May 12, 2004
PHONE: 609-777-2600

(NEW BRUNSWICK)-Governor James E. McGreevey today took an historic step for national medical research by creating the first state-supported stem cell research institute. The Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey will be a joint research institute between the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and Rutgers University, and will be funded through a public-private partnership. Governor McGreevey, Rutgers President Dr. Richard McCormick and UMDNJ Chairman Dr. Joseph Petillo signed the agreement at the conclusion of "The Governor's Forum on New Jersey's Stem Cell Initiative" at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick.

"Rarely does an opportunity like this arise; the opportunity to glimpse the future and. affect the-present in such a meaningful way that we set a course to achieve unimaginable good," said McGreevey. “We have the opportunity to change lives throughout the world, as well as in our own communities and in our own families. Today, we establish the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, becoming the first State to, make a public investment in stem cell research, enabling us to harness the vast resources of our academic community and our private industries."

The Governor highlighted how New Jersey's unique research base will maximize the potential of the Institute, increasing the likelihood of scientific breakthroughs and economic benefits to the state. He cited that New Jersey has more scientists, engineers and technicians per capita that any other state; and that our biotech cluster is one of the top-five in the nation, generating $1 Billion in 2002, with more than 120 businesses and 8,000 employees. He also noted that New Jersey's pharmaceutical companies developed more than one-third of the new medicines the FDA approved in 2002; and that our state alone already accounts for nearly one-quarter of all research and development dollars spent in the nation by pharmaceutical companies.

"Our State is the natural place for this entity to blossom," stated McGreevey. "We have the unique combination of pharmaceutical infrastructure, biomedical research, university expertise and political will necessary to advance stem cell research to the benefit of patients and families throughout the world. The Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey will augment the presence of our industry leaders, attract new companies to a critical sector of our State's economy and promote a forward-looking agenda to develop new medicines and therapies."

The Stem Cell Institute, to be constructed in New Brunswick near the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, will be operated jointly by UMDNJ and Rutgers. The Institute will feature a state-of-the art research facility and will be led by Dr. Ira Black (UMDNJ) and Dr. Wise Young (Rutgers).

Governor McGreevey provided initial funding to create The Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, allocating $6.5 million to help recruit top researchers from around the country and provide some equipment for preliminary work while the facility is being built in downtown New Brunswick. The Governor expects the money will attract more than $20 million in public and private investments in the first five years.

At the Stem Cell Forum the Governor was joined by Tricia Riccio, mother of 18-year-old Watchung Hills Regional High School wrestler Carl Riccio, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2003 during a match; Dr. Clifton Lacy, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services; Dennis Benigno, founder of the Coalition for Brain Injury Research; Dr. Darwin Prockop, Director of the Tulane University Center for Gene Therapy; Dr. Wise Young, Director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University; Dr. Ira Black, Chair of the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology and Director of the Stem Cell Research Center at UMDNJ.

"Hope is really what brings us all here today. Hope that scientists can unlock the miracles of stem cells and turn the knowledge they gain into cures for the incurable," said Governor McGreevey. "Today, we do something truly remarkable. We reach into the future to grasp the full extent of our professional responsibilities. With the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, we embrace the mission to improve the lives of others. We have no higher calling."