By Roya Alt and Elise Lamar
City of Hope and several fellow research institutions across Southern California have joined forces to advance stem cell research by establishing the Southern California Stem Cell Scientific Collaboration (SC3).
Members of the collaboration include researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, California Institute of Technology, the House Ear Institute and University of California, Santa Barbara.
SC3 members have a long history of partnering on research projects. The new agreement is a step forward in supporting potential significant stem cell findings by allowing members to share training programs, scientific core facilities and expertise, and to collaborate on a wide range of research programs.
“For patients and their families, cures for cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases cannot come soon enough,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of City of Hope. We believe the SC3 collaboration provides a critical mass of expertise that will create new knowledge and significantly accelerate treatments for diseases that impact so many.”
City of Hope investigators are conducting stem cell research that could lead to therapies for conditions such as diabetes, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.
And two City of Hope investigators have already won prestigious stem cell grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). In February 2007, Timothy O’Connor, Ph.D., professor in the Division of Biology, won a Scientific Excellence through Exploration and Development grant to investigate whether DNA repair mechanisms essential for cells to remain healthy will work as efficiently in embryonic stem cells as they do in normal cells. And in December 2007, Tiziano Barberi, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Neurosciences, was named one of 22 California investigators to receive the CIRM New Faculty Award. Barberi will receive $1.6 million over five years to support efforts to develop stem cell-based therapies to treat muscular dystrophy.
Each institution will appoint a faculty member to serve on a joint scientific advisory committee, a forum to develop collaborative research ventures, facilitate access to scientific resources and provide expertise across the collaboration. Regional seminar programs and courses will expand as well. The agreement ensures that each member institution provides access to resources to investigators for training or for conducting short-term research projects.