Wednesday, June 26, 2019

$30 Million for Stem Cell Research at UCLA, USC and UC San Francisco

The Broad Foundation today announced it was giving a total of $30 million to UCLA, UC San Francisco and USC to support "life-changing" stem cell research. 

Today's gifts bring to $113 million the total that Broad has donated in California since 2005 to help develop stem cell breakthroughs.

"Today’s $30 million announcement comes as funding for scientific research is declining and researchers are finding it increasingly difficult to secure federal grants," the Broad news release said.

“With (these institutions') commitment to identifying potential treatments for cancers, heritable disorders, and more, we believe (their) centers will continue to make life-changing medical breakthroughs that will impact the lives of people around the world.”
The foundation began its funding of stem cell research
2010 ribbon-cutting for USC stem cell
research building. Edythe and Eli
Broad, (center) flanked by then
Gov. Schwarzenegger (left) and then
CIRM Chairman Bob Klein(right). Broad
and CIRM helped to finance the facility.
in 2005, the year after California voters created a $3 billion stem cell research agency called the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Today CIRM is running out of cash for new awards. Last week it cut off applications for new funding.

The Broad release said that since 2005,

"(S)cientists at the Broad-funded stem cell centers have developed a cure for the genetic immune system deficiency commonly known as the 'bubble baby' disease and launched clinical trials for treatments of cancer, blinding eye diseases, spinal cord injuries, HIV, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening blood disorders."
At UCLA, some of the funding will go to advance "promising therapies across the so-called 'valley of death,' where a lack of funding often prevents the translation of promising laboratory discoveries into clinical trials."

The valley of death is also a particular focus of CIRM because of the difficulty in funding research at that stage.

At UCSF, the release said funds will back "initiatives to better understand and potentially cure developmental disorders" as well as supporting a "broader effort to dissect the molecular and genetic origins of heritable diseases for which early intervention may be possible."

At USC, funds will support "the center’s core facilities and training programs, enable recruitment, and attract collaborative research funding to apply stem cell-based technologies to the ch
allenge of age-associated diseases."

Eli Broad founded two Fortune 500 companies, SunAmerica, Inc., and KB Home.  He and his wife, Edythe, are major philanthropists both in science and art, backing two foundations with assets of $2.7 billion. 

They have particularly supported the advancement of stem cell research in California, the foundation web site said. The organization has previously made large gifts to all three institutions receiving awards today. 

The three are also major beneficiaries of funding from the state stem cell agency, ranking among the top 10 recipients.
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