The center's research facilities, housed at Case, UH and CCF, will enable new non-embryonic stem cell research discoveries by faculty to be translated into therapies that can be used to treat thousands of patients each year.
In addition, the center's education programs will train personnel to perform groundbreaking research and deliver the world's foremost patient care.
"The importance of this new center's work will be incalculable," said Edward M. Hundert, M.D., president of Case, "not only in terms of lives potentially saved but in the hope it will offer. This is another example of the impact that Case, The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland can have when we continue to align our resources, talent and initiative."
The National Center for Regenerative Medicine builds on existing research at the three institutions that is supported by the National Institutes of Health and by the Ohio Wright Center of Innovation for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine involving Case, CCF and UHC. The Wright Center was established in 2003 through an investment by the State of Ohio as part of Gov. Bob Taft's Third Frontier Project. The Center institutions are nationally recognized in cell therapy for cancer and are rapidly translating new laboratory research into new therapies for heart disease, bone and joint disease and vascular disorders.
Congressman Ralph Regula (R-Ohio, 16th District), dean of the Ohio Congressional delegation and second highest-ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee, played a pivotal role in securing this funding. Regula provided leadership within Congress and galvanized members of the Ohio delegation in support of the project.
"This funding will help us build on the solid foundation that we have developed for non-embryonic stem cell research in Cleveland," said Ralph I. Horwitz, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and director of the Case Research Institute. "It is a ringing endorsement of the research talent that is found at Case, The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland."
Stanton Gerson, M.D., professor of medicine at Case, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center and director of the Ohio Wright Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, will direct the new national center. Regenerative medicine is a new approach to medical therapy that uses non-embryonic stem cells to regenerate new tissue in diseased organs in place of using drugs or devices to improve function.
"Our goal is to move from using drugs to treat disease to using non-embryonic stem cells as effective treatments," he said. "We owe a great deal of gratitude to our patients who provided graphic advocacy for the creation of this center to the Ohio Congressional delegation because of the benefits they have derived from treatment with stem cells."
In addition to Drs. Hundert, Horwitz and Gerson, others instrumental in helping to secure the award were Thomas F. Zenty III, president and CEO of University Hospitals Health System; Fred C. Rothstein, M.D., president and chief executive officer of University Hospitals of Cleveland; and Floyd D. Loop, M.D., former CEO, and Toby Cosgrove, M.D., president and CEO, both of The Cleveland Clinic. Senators Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and U.S. Representatives Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-Ohio, 11th District), Dave Hobson (R-Ohio, 7th District), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio, 10th District) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio, 13th District) also contributed to the efforts to obtain funding.
"There is clearly a synergy among Cleveland stem cell researchers that is being recognized at state and federal levels," Rothstein said. "Over the last 30 years, the collaboration between UHC and Case has resulted in much deeper understanding of the potential for non-embryonic stem cells."
"In addition to the state-of-the-art research that will impact the lives of countless people, this center fosters growing collaborations which will significantly contribute to Northeast Ohio's continued emergence as a leading biomedical center," said Paul DiCorleto, Ph.D., chairman of The Lerner Research Institute at the Clinic. The Institute's new Genetics and Stem Cell Research Building, home to both the new Center for Molecular Genetics and the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, is scheduled to open in January.