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New Stem Cell Program : Funds Awarded to Nervous System Projects and Stem Cell Bank Networks


Nine projects and two extensive networks will share 44 million Swedish kronor (SEK) in research funds, the first grants awarded by Sweden’s new Joint Program on Stem Cell Research. Of nearly 50 applicants, 11 received grants. Several of the funded projects address the nervous system. Diabetes is another area to receive funding. - The entire stem cell field is on the threshold of development. These grants are extremely important for advancing research so that we can identify areas with the greatest potential, says Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, General Secretary of the Scientific Council for Medicine at the Swedish Research Council. In the long run, it is our hope that stem cells can be used to cure various diseases. However, intensive research is needed before we can say if, and when, this will be possible.

An international panel of five leading experts, all active researchers in the stem cell field, reviewed and evaluated the grant proposals. Selection was based on the quality of the proposals. Projects selected, project leaders, and funds granted (SEK) for a 3-year period (alphabetical order by surname of project leader): - Cellular and molecular characterization of stem cell proliferation and differentiation / Ernest Arenas, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm: 2.7 million SEK - Survival of neural stem cells and their differentiated progeny in vitro and in vivo / Patrik Brundin, Lund University: 1.5 million SEK - Genome-wide analysis of genetic reprogramming in neuronal stem cell development / Carlos F Ibáñez, Karolinska Institute: 3 million SEK - Genetic control of hematopoietic stem cell fate: Therapeutic implications / Stefan Karlsson, Lund University: 2.4 million SEK - Notch signalling and stem cell differentiation / Urban Lendahl, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm: 3 million SEK - Cancer cells, are they stem cells without control? / Monica Nistér, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm: 2.4 million SEK - Epigenetic reprogramming and transdifferentiation of somatic cells / Rolf Ohlsson, Uppsala University: 3 million SEK - Differentiation of functional pancreatic beta cells from human embryonic stem cells / Henrik Semb, Göteborg University: 1.8 million SEK - Utilization of endothelial-derived signals for differentiating embryonic stem cells to insulin producing cells / Michael Welsh, Uppsala University: 1.8 million SEK - (network) Network for somatic stem cell plasticity / Sten-Eirik Jacobsen, Lund University: 12 million SEK - (network) Derivation, characterization, and banking of human embryonic stem cells / Lars Ährlund-Richter, Karolinska Institutet: 10.5 million SEK

Background Financing for the grants is based an agreement totaling 75 million SEK which the Swedish Research Council reached in the Spring of 2002 with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in the United States and the Swedish Diabetes Association Research Foundation. Over a 5-year period, JDRF will contribute 50 million SEK, the Swedish Research Council will contribute 20 million SEK, and the Swedish Diabetes Association Research Foundation will contribute 5 million SEK. The program includes 5 million SEK earmarked for research on ethical and legal issues. These grants will be awarded later in the autumn.

Kajsa Eriksson | AlphaGalileo
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