Friday May 14th will mark another important day for ongoing research into human stem cells. The University of California at Irvine (UCI) is set to open the $80 million and 100,000+ square foot Sue and Bill Gross Hall - a stem cell research center. This will be the first such research center in southern California, and the state's first such facility designed from conception to focus on stem cells research. The hall was made possible by a $10 million dollar leading donation from Sue and Bill Gross which helped attract $27.2 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. CIRM was created through a voter sponsored initiative to bolster stem cell research in California. Additional funding came from other private donors and support from the UC system. The new center should help accelerate the development of stem cell science in a region already known for its biomedical innovation.
Any new stem cell research facility is a means for some celebration as they increase the total funds dedicated to this valuable field. Gross Hall, however, is particularly promising because of the talent found there. Interim Co-director Hans Keirstead was one of the minds behind Geron's embryonic stem cell clinical trials (the first of their kind in the US). We saw him most recently giving a great explanation of why stem cell research needs time before it will be able to produce widely applicable therapies. As Keirstead and Geron work towards treating spinal cord injuries, other Gross faculty will work on Down's Syndrome, Alzheimer's, hearing loss, retinal degeneration, diabetes, and many more important illnesses. It may take years before Gross Hall produces a steady stream of stem cell discoveries, but its creation is a great sign that US research is starting to get the funding it needs and is headed in the right direction.
[image credit: Hans Keirstead/UCI]
[source: UCI Today]