Salk to share $15M grant for stem cell bank

By City News Service

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies announced Wednesday it will share a $15 million grant with Columbia University Medical Center to create a bank of stem cells that can be used to grow models of diseases.

The grant was awarded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to establish a collaborative program between the two research centers that will promote the use of induced pluripotent stem cells, which look and act like embryonic stem cells, according to Kat Kearney of the Salk Institute.

Over the next three years, the grant will pay for a stem cell bank of induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, taken from patients with neurological, cardiac and hematological diseases, Kearney said. Those iPS cells will then be used to grow nerve, muscle, blood and other tissue cells that can act as models to study the effects of diseases.

Researchers from Salk and Columbia will then test tens of thousands of chemicals on these cellular models in the hopes of finding new drugs for diseases that are currently untreatable.

“Stem cell research is of immense importance to the future of biomedical research and will have a major impact in treating and preventing

devastating diseases,” said Fred Gage, a Salk genetics professor. “The funding from The Helmsley Trust will accelerate and deepen our research efforts in stem cell biology, already an area of strength at the Salk Institute.”