Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund Factsheet

The Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund has awarded 141 grants to date and there is considerable variety among the research funded. It includes:

· Mix of investigator-initiated, exploratory and post doctoral grants

· Mix of human stem cells – adult, embryonic, cancer stem cells, iPS – or combination

· Mix of basic and translational projects on diseases and conditions – Blood diseases; Schizophrenia; Neural; Spinal cord injury; Central Nervous System; Genetic development; Burn wounds; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Multiple peripheral nerve regeneration; Pancreas; Neurodegenerative Diseases; Acute myeloid leukemia; Multiple leukemia; Brain tumor; Development; Lungs; Multiple cancer; Coronary; Heart disease; Myocardial infarction; Molecular biology; Type 1 Diabetes; Human pluripotent stem cell; Vascular; Neonatal stroke; Retinal degenerative; Generate insulin-producing beta-cells; Neural hematopoiesis; Human erythropoiesis; Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia; Vascular diseases; Brain pathology; Mesenchymal stem cell differentiation; Ewing Sarcoma; Muscular Dystrophy; Chronic pancreatitis, Pancreatic adenocarcinoma; Glioblastoma; Parkinson's disease; Cystic Fibrosis; Chemo-resistance; Bone; Gaucher's; Breast cancer; Osteoarthritis; Transplantation; Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH); Liver; Alzheimer's disease; Peripheral Arterial Disease; Prostate cancer

· Mix of institutions and collaborations – majority to Johns Hopkins Institutes and University System of Maryland; three grants to private companies; there are several private collaborators working with academic institutions and collaboration from the University of Pennsylvania, The Scripps Research Institute, University of Newcastle, NIH, and cross campus collaboration within Maryland’s public and private research institutions

These 141 grants are supporting research directly involving over 350 researchers, physicians, lab technicians, and other personnel and an estimated 700 researchers indirectly working in labs supported by the research grants.

While the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund supported 141 new research grants in just three years, during the same period the NIH funded only two new awards on human stem cells to Maryland researchers. Assuming a perfect world that all of the actions noted below will happen in a timely manner and the NIH will see its budget increased, Maryland will only likely receive four grants for human stem cell research based on historical data.

As job creation is important to the State in these challenging economic times, the post doc fellowships are direct high paying new jobs of PhDs and MDs. It is more important now more than ever to support research as private foundations that were supporting research are not only holding back, they are receiving far less from their traditional supporters. Scientists will leave Maryland’s universities to work for NIH and other federal agencies.

Based on the language of the Executive Order signed by President Obama on March 9, 2009, additional actions are still necessary to accomplish his goal of federally funded embryonic stem cell research. These actions will take many months to over a year to accomplish and will still leave in place the Dickey-Wicker Amendment of 1995 that prohibits federal funding for research that involves the creation or destruction of human embryos.

Maryland cannot sit back and wait, and risk losing the momentum and investments in stem cell research and economic development made to date. When federal policies, guidelines, and appropriations are solidified, Maryland’s stem cell research community will be poised to successfully compete for federal funding, with years of data and research supporting their requests.

The Governor and the General Assembly have selected a tremendously talented group of individuals to serve on the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission and they have been working hard, leading and not following the Federal government, and they will continue to do so. In FY2007 there were 85 applications for the initial $15M; however, interest in the program is only growing: in FY2008 there were 122 applications, and in FY2009 there were 147 applications while the budget has been decreasing from $23M to $18M and $12.4M for FY2010. Any cessation of the program would be devastating to Maryland’s research community and to Maryland’s international reputation as a leader in stem cell research.

Maryland is hosting the World Stem Cell Summit, September 21-23, 2009. This will be the only scientific showcase of stem cell research in North America this year. Every researcher who has received funding from the MSCRF is required to present their research to date during the Summit.

For more information, contact Dan Gincel (410) 715-4172.

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