December 12, 2008
Bioengineering faculty Steve Conolly and David Schaffer have both been awarded grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to create new tools to speed the translation of basic stem cell research into clinical therapies. Twenty three grants were announced this week to 18 institutions by the state’s stem cell agency, with only two going to UC Berkeley.
Conolly will receive $882,430 to develop and test a new scanning method to track the location and viability of stem cells within the human body. This Magnetic Particle Imaging technique “could solve one of the greatest obstacles to human stem cell therapy – the ability to track stem cells and see if the cells are thriving and becoming fully differentiated cells that can improve function of damaged organs.”
Schaffer is co-author of the other successful Berkeley proposal with Robert Tjian, professor of molecular and cell biology and newly appointed director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. They will receive $918,000 to develop new molecular tools and novel technologies for high efficiency gene targeting in stem cells. Their proposal noted that gene targeting –introducing targeted changes into the DNA of cells – would have very broad implications for basic research. “For example, mutations could readily be introduced into genes to study their roles in stem cell propagation and differentiation, to analyze mechanisms of human disease, and to develop disease models to aid in creating new therapies,” they wrote.
Read the full story at the UC Berkeley NewsCenter.