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Recovery Act Funds Expand Studies of Stem Cell Biology

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health, is using $5.4 million of Recovery Act funds to accelerate basic studies of induced pluripotent stem cells. These cells, abbreviated iPS, are reprogrammed from skin or other easily obtained adult cells and appear to be similar to stem cells derived from embryos.

Induced pluripotent stem cells
Induced pluripotent stem cells (adult skin
cells that have been genetically
reprogrammed to mimic embryonic stem
cells). Credit: James Thomson, University
of Wisconsin-Madison

In theory, iPS cells could generate any type of cell and be used to treat diseases. But to realize this potential, scientists need a much better understanding of iPS cells' fundamental properties and how to efficiently derive cells that are safe for therapeutic uses.

To speed iPS research, NIGMS has awarded one-year grant supplements to 22 scientists at 16 institutions in 12 states and the District of Columbia. The investigators already have strong records of accomplishment in a range of research areas and will study iPS cells in varied biological systems.

"Stem cell biology is poised for rapid advances, and we expect our Recovery Act investment to have a catalytic effect. The new awards will contribute to the field's progress by enhancing the utility of iPS cells as tools for research, for testing the effects of drugs on human tissues and ultimately for patient-specific treatments," said NIGMS Director Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D.

The Recovery Act funding will allow the scientists to address such important questions as:

  • How does reprogramming work?
  • What factors are necessary to create iPS cells efficiently and safely?
  • What drives iPS cells toward a desired cell type that can be used to regenerate or repair damaged tissues in a patient?
  • Do iPS cells differ from embryonic and adult stem cells, and if so, how?

The investigators receiving supplements are:

  • Bruce Beutler, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.
  • C. Anthony Blau, University of Washington, Seattle 
  • Richard Cerione, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Stephen Dalton, University of Georgia, Athens
  • Sharon Dent, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • Andres Garcia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
  • David Gilbert, Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Margaret Goodell, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
  • Brenton Graveley, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington
  • Jeanne Lawrence, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
  • Jeannie Lee, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • Shaohua Li, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway
  • John Lis, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Nancy Maizels, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Sergie Nekhai, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
  • Sean Palecek, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Arnold Rizzino, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha
  • Hannele Ruohola-Baker, University of Washington, Seattle
  • James Thomson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Yi Wang, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
  • Jeffrey Wilusz, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
  • Jerome Zack, University of California, Los Angeles

For project details, go to http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm, check the box that says "Show only projects supported by NIH Recovery Act funds," and enter the name of the scientist in the Principal Investigator field.

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To download a high-resolution image of an iPS cell, go to https://images.nigms.nih.gov/Pages/DetailPage.aspx?imageID=336.

NIGMS is a part of NIH that supports basic research to increase our understanding of life processes and lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information on the Institute's research and training programs, see http://www.nigms.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

The activities described in this release are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). More information about NIH's ARRA grant funding opportunities can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/recovery/. To track the progress of HHS activities funded through the ARRA, visit www.hhs.gov/recovery Link to external Web site. To track all federal funds provided through the ARRA, visit www.recovery.gov.

This page last reviewed on August 11, 2016