Governor celebrates new UCSF stem cell lab

December 17, 2008 5:36:33 PM PST
UCSF announced a $25 million donation that will help bring all the university's stem cell research under one roof, in a new state of the art facility. However for now, their existing labs will have to remain separate, but equal.

As construction crews continued laying the foundations for UCSF's new stem cell research center, a crowd was celebrating a $25 million donation, that will help pay for it.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California toured UCSF's older facilities and told the crowd, he has a personal interest in seeing the nationally recognized program expanded.

"This means a lot to me, my father in law has Alzheimer's, he's a Democrat. Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer's and he was a Republican. So, as you can see, it has nothing to do with the party lines, but politicians found how to draw a line in the sand," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

What the governor was referring to are the strict rules that govern half of UCSF's existing stem cell lab. It's the part funded with federal money, which comes with limitations on the use of human embryonic stem cells.

"What you're looking at here is magnified image of a line of mouse," said Matthew Gormley, a UCSF lab manager.

Gormley says the rules have forced the university to buy two of almost everything, since equipment can't be shared between the federally-funded area and the separate state-funded space, which works with new embryonic stem cell lines.

"We've had to duplicate every single piece of apparatus, which is very expensive. From microscopes to incubators and even down to single bottles of solutions," said Gormley.

Walk about 10 feet down the hall to the state-funded space, and you'll even find another lab director named Matthew, who's been forced to tag some of his equipment with stickers warning against sharing it.

"If I gave it to the other Matthew, it would be illegal," said Matthew Dunne, a UCSF lab manager.

"The fact of the matter is that it is a waste of money and very soon this is about to change. I'm looking forward to that also," said Schwarzenegger.

Now, some 125 research groups will be housed in a single state of the art facility, paid for in part with the $25 million donated by philanthropist Eli Broad. And if President-elect Barack Obama relaxes federal restrictions, as expected, researchers will also have unprecedented space for clinical trials.

"Oh God, it's going to be awesome," said Gormley.

The construction crews broke ground about three months ago. The stem cell center is scheduled to be finished in about a year and a half.


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