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UC Irvine opens California's first stem cell research institute

May 15, 2010 |  9:26 am

The first-of-its kind stem cell research facility opened Friday at UC Irvine, with leading scientists and state officials on hand to do the honors.

UC Irvine's Sue and Bill Gross Hall: A California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is the first of seven such facilities the state agency plans to open for stem cell research at California universities.

The statewide regenerative medicine agency was created after passage of Proposition 71 in 2004 by 59% of voters, who supported new funding sources for stem cell research after then-President George W. Bush banned federal funding to develop new stem cell lines.

With a $10-million gift from Bill Gross, co-founder of PIMCO, an investment management company, UC Irvine was able to attract a $27.2-million grant from the regenerative medicine agency. The rest of the institute's $80-million cost came from private funding and the UC system.

"This is a remarkable contribution to our children and our children's children," said Robert Klein, the agency's chairman. "With great champions and great facilities, great scientists can change the world."

The state agency also gave $27 million for an institute at USC and $19.9 million for one at UCLA.

UC Irvine's institute will develop ways for stem cells to help patients with Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injuries and macular degeneration, among other ailments.

Read the full story here.

-- Joseph Serna

Photo: John Brownlee looks at purified human pancreatic islets through a microscope during a walk-through tour of UC Irvine's new stem cell research institute on Friday. Credit: Daily Pilot