Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey
 
 

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UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Awarded Grants for Stem Cell Research

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Department of Communication & Public Affairs
Date: February 8, 2006
Contact: Patricia M. Hansen, Director of Communication/Public Affairs
732-235-6307, hansenmp@umdnj.edu
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Awarded Grants for Stem Cell Research
For Immediate Release

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New Brunswick—UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) scientists garnered six of 17 New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology (NJCST) grants — more than any other institution — for continued study of stem cell research.

The grants establish New Jersey as the first state to publicly fund human embryonic stem cell research. The funding, while distributed among individual investigators working on a variety of projects within their own laboratories, nevertheless draws attention to the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, an RWJMS and Rutgers , The State University of New Jersey initiative.

Recipients, who each will receive $300,000 over the next two years, include Randall McKinnon, PhD, associate professor of surgery. Dr. McKinnon is collaborating with Celgene, a New Jersey biotech firm, in studying human placental cells with the goal of identifying a potential alternative to embryonic stem cells for clinical trials.

Richard Nowakowski, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience and cell biology, is focusing on reprogramming transplanted cells for cell replacement therapies with potential for replacing specific brain areas damaged by disease.

Lin Qin, PhD, instructor of physiology and biophysics, conducts research using bone marrow stem cells to develop effective treatments for low bone mass and similar disorders.

Monica Roth , PhD, professor of biochemistry, hopes to enhance the ability to use stem cells and gene therapy in clinical settings by applying novel genetic screening methods to the cells.

The work of Michael Shen, PhD, professor of pediatrics, involves advancing the fundamental understanding of basic molecular functions in mice and human stem cells, with potential for stem cell based therapies that include insights about the genesis of cancer stem cells.

Yufang Shi, DVM, PhD, professor of molecular genetics, microbiology and immunology at RWJMS, is investigating stem cells with relation to the treatment of autoimmune disorders.

The scope of serious stem cell work at RWJMS is recognized by the diversity of the projects funded by the NJCST. These projects address questions about how stem cells work, how they can be used for treatment of various conditions, and how to advance New Jersey ’s position as a leader in stem cell research.

Commenting on his own award and those of colleagues, Dr. McKinnon calls the funding program unique and believes it represents an exciting opportunity to direct research interests toward clinical applications, adding that the long term success of such research depends largely on continued support.

“The NJCST has made a tremendous first step to support stem cell research in our state,” Dr. Kinnon says. “Studies in my laboratory, and some of the others, focus on biological mechanisms, rather than therapeutics, but all of the projects have the potential to shed light on possible applications.”