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UCSF stem cell building opens, marking a milestone for a “pioneering program”
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


SAN FRANCISCO—The University of California, San Francisco this week celebrated the official opening of the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building, calling it "a testament to the power of perseverance in the stem cell field. The "architecturally significant" structure is located on UCSF's Parnassus Campus and will serve as the headquarters for the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. The program, which extends across all UCSF campuses, is reportedly one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the United States.
"Today signifies a major milestone in the history of UCSF's stem cell research program," says Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the chancellor of UCSF. "It is a great day for the citizens of California, whose support of Proposition 71 in 2004 helped make this moment possible, for the field of stem cell research, and, most importantly, for the human race, which we hope will someday benefit from the research underway here."
A combination of state funds and private funds paid for the $123 million building, and UCSF says the effort "is an outgrowth of California's effort to advance stem cell research in the face of more than a decade of restrictive federal funding policies." The idea for the building was conceived in 2004 by leaders of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state agency established to administer the $3 billion, tax-payer supported fund for stem cell research.
Part of the logic behind the funding and planning has been to avoid any federal entanglements, UCSF reports. Because no federal funds were used to construct the facility or purchase equipment within it, the research is, the university refers to the new facility as "immune to variations in federal funding policy regarding human embryonic stem cell research."
"We are pleased to have been able to help UCSF create the extraordinary building that is now home to 25 of the top stem cell laboratories in the United States," said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which has given $75 million to support or create stem cell centers at UCSF, USC and UCLA. "The work that scientists are carrying out in this building is significantly advancing efforts to move discoveries in the lab toward clinical trials for a host of diseases. We are pleased to play a small role in making that possible."
"UCSF has been a trailblazer in stem cell research for more than a decade," says San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, noting the impact of UCSF's program on the city. "This new facility not only attracts the world's best and brightest scientific minds to our city, but will serve as a center for collaboration and partnerships with biotechnology companies in Mission Bay and the region."  
The building is designed to foster intensive collaboration and synergy among scientists in a broad spectrum of labs and disciplines, and was designed with a series of four split-level floors with terraced grass roofs. Open labs flow into each other, UCSF reports, with office and lounge areas located on the routes between labs, promoting interaction throughout the building.
The design, according to Dr. Arnold Kriegstein, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF, "is intended to allow scientists who normally wouldn't be situated near one another to work side by side, with the goal of answering fundamental questions about the earliest steps of embryo and cell development—answers that are informing our efforts to develop treatment strategies."

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