New Facility Will Accelerate Stem Cell Research

May. 24, 2010

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has received a $3.3 million grant from the Empire State Stem Cell Board for the construction of a new facility that will enable scientists to produce human stem cells suitable for testing new therapies.

“This facility will enable stem cell scientists to take their research to the next level,” said URMC scientist Steven Dewhurst, Ph.D. “It will also facilitate collaboration among scientists and accelerate research and development in the region’s biotechnology sector.”

The Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility (USCGF) will be a regional resource and available to scientists in institutions throughout upstate New York. The USCGF will be coordinated by an advisory committee consisting of scientists from URMC, Upstate Medical University, Albany Medical Center, the University at Buffalo, and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  Dewhurst is the principal investigator of the grant and will oversee operation of the facility.

cGMP stands for “current good manufacturing practices,” a designation that the facility is compliant with federal regulatory procedures and guidelines necessary for the production and handling of human embryonic, progenitor, and adult stem cells for scientific investigation and use in experimental therapies in humans.   

Several major stem cell research projects in the fields of neurological, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal diseases and cancer have already been identified as potential users of the facility. A number of biotechnology companies have also formally expressed an interest in using the facility. 

The USCGF will be built on the URMC campus adjacent to existing biomedical research buildings. The grant from the Empire State Stem Cell Board will be used to outfit the facility and support the salaries of scientific and administrative staff. URMC will help fund the construction and support the facility’s operation. Construction of the approximately 3,600 square foot facility is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2011.  

“This grant addresses a critical gap in our current scientific infrastructure,” said URMC CEO Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D. “This facility will enable scientists here at URMC and across New York to accelerate the process of translating their research into human clinical trials and, ultimately, into new treatments for a myriad of diseases.” 

Berk is a member of the Empire State Stem Cell Board. URMC members of the USCGF advisory board include Dewhurst, Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., Mark Noble, Ph.D., and Ed Puzas, Ph.D.