UCSF opens new stem cell research building

February 14, 2011 7:40:12 PM PST
UCSF officially opened its new stem cell research center on Wednesday. It's a building that's grabbed a lot of attention, not only for its science, but also its unique architecture.

While movers and shakers from the stem cell world celebrate on stage, at UCSF the real star of the ceremony was actually several hundred feet over their heads. The newly opened, state of the art stem cell research center was paid for, in part, by the voter approved stem cell initiative.

"Proposition 71 in 2004 helped make this moment possible for field of stem cell research and more importantly for the human race," UCSF Chancellor Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellman said.

The center snakes along a 60-degree slope on the side of Mt. Sutro. It's connected to the main hospital at UCSF and its Parnassus campus by a suspended sky bridge. Inside, researchers are now beginning stem cell trials on humans. Dr. David Rowitch is concentrating on a rare but deadly disease that ravages the brains of children.

"We are injecting these cells directly into the brain, they're neural stem cells and we think they have ability to make components of the brain that are defective in the brains these children," he said.

The unique architecture was designed to facilitate seamless movement between the labs to encourage collaboration. Outside, offices give way to terraced rooftop gardens, and views that stretch across the city.

"It creates single floor for all scientists and promotes interactions, so people are meeting each other," center director Dr. Arnold Kriegstein said.

The dedication comes exactly 30 years after a researcher at UCSF co-discovered embryonic stem cells in mice. Now, the university is hoping the views and the vision of the center will help attract top stem cell researchers from around the world.

While state voters provided the seed money, the center also received tens of millions of dollars in private donations. The largest came from foundations set up by Edith and Eli Broad and Ray and Dagmar Dolby.


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