Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey

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International Stem Cell Research Collaboration
Quebec/New Jersey Stem Cell Workshop Brings Scientists Together

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Date: September 20, 2007
Patricia M. Hansen
Director of Communication & Public Affairs

Piscataway—International collaboration in the field of stem cell research took a major step forward this summer when participants of the Quebec/New Jersey Stem Cell Workshop met to discuss the future of stem cell research. The workshop was organized by representatives from McGill University, Quebec, Canada; Jewish General Hospital, Quebec, Canada; and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey.

“Last October, diplomats from the Quebec Provincial Government invited a group of stem cell researchers from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers University to the Quebec Consulate in New York and asked what could be done to facilitate collaboration among stem cell scientists between New Jersey and Quebec,” recounts Richard Nowakowski, PhD, professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and one of the workshop organizers. “It was a very good meeting and helped set the groundwork for the recent workshop in Quebec.”

An advisory committee was formed under the leadership of Joseph R. Bertino, MD, interim director of the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey to discuss and organize the process and foster collaboration. The committee consisted of New Jersey researchers who are recipients of Stem Cell Grants through the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. The committee reviewed the research topics and selected the New Jersey representatives to the meeting in Quebec.

According to Dr. Nowakowski, 14 New Jersey scientists all involved with stem cell research gave scientific presentations at the workshop along with their Canadian colleagues. New Jersey institutions represented included UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Coriell Institute for Medical Research and Celgene.

Outcomes from the workshop included: collaboration between Canadian and New Jersey stem cell scientists through formal and informal discussion; future meetings are now scheduled and the collaboration will soon expand to include the states (US) and provinces (Canada) in the eastern one-half of North America with stem cell programs in place.

“Because United States federal law restricts the use of federal funds to a limited set of embryonic stem lines, this discipline is in a unique situation, and international collaboration can facilitate advances in the field,” states Dr. Nowakowski. “The future of stem cell therapy will require extensive clinical trials so that various laws across countries will provide a cost savings to the community and more importantly, accelerate the delivery of promising new technologies that will advance the treatment and prevention of disease.”

UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. In cooperation with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school’s principal affiliate, they comprise New Jersey’s premier academic medical center. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.

As one of the eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with 2,500 full-time and volunteer faculty, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 22 basic science and clinical departments and hosts centers and institutes including The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students on its campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden, and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs.