Gladstone, Roddenberry Foundation open new stem cell center

The Gladstone Institutes and the Roddenberry Foundation have inaugurated a new stem cell facility, opening the doors to the Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Gladstone.

Kelsey Kaustinen
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SAN FRANCISCO—The Gladstone Institutes and the RoddenberryFoundation have inaugurated a new stem cell facility, opening the doors to theRoddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Gladstone. The unitwas founded thanks to an extremely generous gift of $5 million from thefoundation established in honor of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
 
"This gift is our largest to date, and with it, we hope tohelp accelerate advances in biomedical research," Gene Roddenberry's son RodRoddenberry, co-founder and chair of the board of directors of the RoddenberryFoundation, said in a press release. "In addition, if our support can inspireone child to become a scientist, one organization to become more charitable,one person to simply invest himself or herself in improving the future of ourworld, then our foundation can be a catalyst in making the future envisionedthrough Star Trek a reality."
 
 
Gladstone's three main areas of focus are cardiovasculardisease, viruses like HIV/AIDS and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer'sdisease. Currently, 5.4 million people in the United States alone suffer fromAlzheimer's, which comes with an annual price tag of $183 billion, according toan estimate from the Alzheimer's Association. In addition, as the baby boomerpopulation continues to age, the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer'sis expected to have doubled by the year 2050.
 
 
Unfortunately, despite the dozens of companies andundertakings targeting this disease, no single disease-modifying therapy existsfor Alzheimer's. Steven Finkbeiner, M.D., Ph.D., a senior investigator atGladstone, notes that it takes, on average, 12 years and as much as $1 billionto develop a drug for neurodegenerative disease.
 
 
Stem cell research has been booming in several areas,including the areas of neurodegenerative disease, and the new center willcapitalize on that, building on work done by a Gladstone investigator in 2006.Shinya Yamanaka, M.D., Ph.D., a senior investigator at Gladstone, and his KyotoUniversity team discovered how to reprogram skin cells into cells that coulddevelop into other cells types, similar to embryonic stem cells. These inducedpluripotent stem cells (iPS) became huge in the field of regenerative medicineand remain a staple in stem cell research.
 
 
In an effort to build on this technology, the RoddenberryCenter for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Gladstone also announced theformation of an agreement with Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Researchand Application (CiRA), of which Yamanaka is the director. CiRA is involvedwith drug discovery and regenerative medicine, with a specific focus on inducedpluripotency and cellular reprogramming. The partnership will allow for asharing of materials and knowledge between the two stem cell centers.
 
 
"The Roddenberry gift will help us create the human,iPS-based disease models that we need to accelerate the development of drugtherapies for a host of devastating diseases, honoring Gene Roddenberry's callto 'live long and prosper,'" Deepak Srivastava, M.D., director of stem cell andcardiovascular research at Gladstone, said in a press release.
 
 
Gladstone is an independent, nonprofit biomedical-researchorganization, and is affiliated with the University of California, SanFrancisco.
 
 
 
 
SOURCE: Gladstone press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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