UWisc Launches Stem Cell Center w/ Lecture by Wilmut

UWisc-Madison is joining Harvard and Scotland's University of Edinburgh by investing in a new stem cell research facility that promote cross-disciplinary collaborations. Tonight, in conjunction with a speech by Edinburgh scientist Ian Wilmut, the university will announce the new virtual center with $750,000 in initial funding. Here's how the initiative was described in the Wisconsin State Journal:

"Just about every university now has a stem-cell center," said Clive Svendsen, a co-director of the center. "This is a response to national competition in this area. We want to keep UW-Madison a leader in the field."

A few details of interest about the new center, as reported by the State-Journal:

-->The center will not fund the creation of new embryonic stem-cell lines or research on existing lines not approved by the federal government. That kind of will continue to take place at the privately funded WiCell, a spin-off of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the university's tech-transfer arm.

-->The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, a $150 million public-private research complex will also feature some stem-cell research.

-->A goal of the virtual center is to broaden the definition of who is considered a "stem-cell scientist."

Judith Kimble, who studies how microscopic worms grow new parts, will be a part of the center, Svendsen said. So will Laura Kiessling, a chemist who studies cell signals and drug screening. Researchers involved in clinical trials of stem-cell therapies also will be involved. Dr. Amish Raval, who is coordinating UW-Madison's participation in a national study of an experimental stem-cell therapy for heart disease, will take part in the center, Kamp said. Also participating will be Peiman Hematti -- a hematologist, or blood specialist, who is processing patients' cells in Raval's study. Ethicists such as Alta Charo also will be on board, and public lectures about the science and ethics of stem-cell research will be held. "The center will run the full gamut, from embryonic stem cells to insect biology to clinical trials, ethics and all," Svendsen said. The center will also help the university recruit new scientists, he said.