Public Release:  CIRM awards $5.9 million to Burnham Institute

SEED grants will launch innovative stem cell research

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

(La Jolla, CA., February 16, 2007) The Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) will receive $ 5,925,878 in grants awarded from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) as part of the first research grants approved under Proposition 71, the Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, adopted by California voters in November 2004. Earlier today, the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, the governing body charged with implementing Proposition 71, approved the allocation of $45 million to fund 72 grants awarded under CIRM's Scientific Excellence through Exploration and Development (SEED) Grant Program.

"In funding these SEED grants, CIRM is fulfilling its commitment to making a major impact on stem cell science and health care," said Dr. Evan Snyder, Professor and Director of Stem Cell Research at Burnham. "These are the first grants to support fundamental science. By giving priority to SEED funding, CIRM is supporting early-stage science that could not be funded under current stem cell funding guidelines at the National Institutes of Health."

CIRM's SEED program is intended to bring new ideas and new investigators into the field of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research and offer an opportunity for investigators to carry out studies that may yield preliminary data or proof-of-principle results that could then be extended to full-scale investigations. The 72 grants approved for funding earlier today were selected from 231 applications submitted to CIRM.

At Burnham, the SEED funding will help launch innovative projects each of which will explore a different aspect of stem cell biology in areas of medical relevance ranging from heart disease, Parkinson's, cancer, and neural development, to the development of methods for deriving and culturing human embryonic stem cell lines.

Projects awarded at Burnham:

  • David Smotrich, Clincal Associate, Evan Snyder, Professor and Director, Stem Cell Research, and Jeanne Loring, Adjunct Associate Professor - Generation of hESC lines, under defined conditions, modeling normal and diseased states from material
  • Robert Oshima, Professor and Program Director - Trophoblast differentiation of human ES cells
  • Hudson Freeze, Professor and Program Director - Role of Glycans in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Conversion to Neural Precursor Cells
  • Zhuohua Zhang, Assistant Professor - Modeling Parkinson's Disease using Human Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Ziwei Huang, Professor - New Chemokine-Derived Therapeutics Targeting Stem Cell Migration
  • Vincent Chen, Assistant Professor - Development of Neuro-Coupled Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Cardiac Pacemaker Cells
  • Alexey Terskikh, Assistant Professor - Analysis of Candidate Neural Crest Cells Derived from Human Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Gregg Duester, Professor - Retinoic Acid-FGF Antagonism During Motor Neuron Differentiation of Human ES Cells

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CIRM was established in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was approved by California voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities.

Burnham is a collaborative partner of the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SDCRM), founded in March 2006 by UC San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Burnham as a non-profit entity to expand San Diego's collaborative work in stem cell research.

About Burnham Institute for Medical Research. Burnham Institute for Medical Research conducts world-class collaborative research dedicated to finding cures for human disease, improving quality of life, and thus creating a legacy for its employees, partners, donors, and community. The La Jolla, California campus was established as a nonprofit, public benefit corporation in 1976 and is now home to three major centers: a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, the Del E. Webb Center for Neurosciences and Aging, and the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center. Burnham today employs over 750 people and ranks consistently among the world's top 20 research institutes. In 2006, Burnham established a presence at the University of California, Santa Barbara, led by Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, Distinguished Professor. Burnham is also establishing a campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida that will focus on diabetes and obesity research and will expand the Institute's drug discovery capabilities. For additional information about Burnham and to learn about ways to support its research, visit www.burnham.org.

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