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Wellcome Trust, MRC to fund Cambridge stem cell center
CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom—The University of Cambridge has announced that it will be receiving £8 million (approximately $12.5 million) to fund a new world-leading center for stem cell biology and medicine. The funding will come from the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC), and The Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute will focus on the study of stem cells and their potential applications in a variety of life-threatening conditions that lack effective cures or treatments.
"This strategic collaboration between the UK's two largest funders of medical research has united teams from across Cambridge that work across all types of stem cell research and will enable its director, Austin Smith, to attract outstanding researchers in the field," Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said in a press release. "The new institute will play a vital role in accelerating our understanding health and disease and in the development of new treatments and will cement the UK's position as a world-leader in stem cell research."
Despite the ethical and regulatory issues that continue to plague researchers and pharmaceutical companies interested in the potential of stem cells, they continue to draw interest and optimism for the effects they could have on a variety of indications. Beyond their uses in regenerative therapies, such as wound treatment and spinal cord injuries, they also show promise for conditions such as diabetes, blindness, liver disease and even neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
"The UK is currently one of the best places in the world to do stem cell research and we want to make sure that continues to be the case now and for the next generation of scientists. By joining forces with the Wellcome Trust to invest strategically in all areas of stem cell science, embracing both adult and embryonic stem cells, we will create a competitive and attractive environment for future commercial investment in regenerative medicine," Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, said in a statement.
The new institute will build on the latest investment as well as existing funding from the MRC and the Wellcome Trust, and will bring together 30 research teams with experience in embryonic, adult and induced pluripotent stem cells. The institute will eventually be based in a purpose-built 8,000-meter facility on the Cambridge Biomedical Research Campus, with research to focus on areas such as pluripotency, epithelial tissues, hematopoiesis and neural and cardiovascular stem cells.
"The Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute will be an invigorating environment for cross- fertilization between fundamental and translational researchers. Our aim is to close the knowledge gap and drive stem cell research forward towards clinical applications. The world-class facilities will attract the best international talent from the fields of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine to pursue this goal," Professor Austin Smith, director of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, noted in a press release.
"This joint funding initiative from the Wellcome Trust and MRC gives us the opportunity to link Cambridge's great strengths in stem cell biology with our strengths in translational clinical research, and thus to give new insights into disease mechanisms – and ultimately to develop new therapies," said Professor Sir Patrick Sissons, Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge, in a statement. "In association with the initiative, we all look forward to the future co-location of stem cell biology and medicine in the new building planned for the Cambridge Biomedical Campus."
SOURCE: University of Cambridge press release