It might or might not surprise you that some very strong private biomedical research institute funding at the University of California San Francisco campus comes from the father of the first enclosed southern California shopping mall, on the one hand, and the founder of Star Trek on the other. Those two innovative individuals, J. David Gladstone and Gene Roddenberry respectively, have left much of their considerable legacy to science research into understanding human disease. A year ago this time, the Gladstone Institutes welcomed the Roddenberry Foundation into its research family with the establishment of the Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine within the Gladstone walls on Owens Street in Mission Bay. Two months ago one of the Gladstone's senior research scientists won the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work with induced pluripotent stem cells. Those events, in conjunction with the 3 decades of research milestones made by their scientists, as well as their affiliation with UCSF and its world-class stem cell research program position the Gladstone solidly to meet their 21st Century mission goal:
Gladstone’s mission is to unravel the basics of biology in order to better understand, prevent, treat and cure cardiovascular, viral and neurological conditions such as heart failure, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease.
[The UCSF Mission Bay streetcar stop. Image courtesy of the Gladstone Institutes]
The Gladstone Foundation was launched in the early 70's upon the death of its namesake, J. David Gladstone. Its original mandate was to support medical student researchers through grants, but within a decade it grew to become a full-scale institute dedicated to cardiovascular research, with ties to UCSF and its own research facilities and faculty. Over the years other "institutes" were added, so that now the Foundation supports these research areas and their investigators' labs:
- Cardiovascular Disease (11 investigators)
- Virology and Immunology (9 investigators)
- Neurological Disease (10 investigators)
- Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (12 investigators)
- Translational Research
Stem cell technology and regenerative medicine obviously overlap with the three primary areas of basic research into disease, and indeed most of the new Roddenberry Center's investigators are also members of one of the three disease areas. Nor is translational research distinct from other research so much as a branch of science dedicated to seeing therapies come of lab breakthroughs. Stem cell research was already strong at Gladstone, in fact, thanks in part to the arrival of Nobel Winner Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD in the 1990's.
The Roddenberry Center will strengthen Gladstone's stem cell research program and provide the tools and resources to bring its work into the clinic. Yamanaka, for instance, is also Director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Applications and Principal Investigator at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Japan's Kyoto University. The Japanese team, led by Yamanaka, is building a stem cell biobank for creating cell lines for future therapeutics. Instead of personal iPS lines, which could be prohibitively expensive or include too many unknowns to be clinically ideal, patients would be matched to a cell line much the way a bone marrow patient is matched to a donor. Part of the science is planning its availability and the practicalities of a full-blown therapeutic treatment program. Yamanaka's Kyoto group is preparing to carry out a stem cell clinical investigation for treating patients with macular degeneration in the coming year.
For another recent blog of ours on UCSF and biobanking, click here.
For an introduction to the work and philosophy of Gladstone investigators, watch the video below. You may notice a certain echo of the famous line "to boldly go where no man has gone before," and that would not be unintentional. Exploring the limits of the known world is common to both scientists and science fiction creators and perhaps explains the fascination science holds for all of us. As an added observation, the earliest covered shopping malls' similarity to imaginary moon bases and other man-made, self-contained worlds probably wasn't an accident either.
[Video courtesy of the Gladstone Institutes]
Biotechnology Calendar Inc. holds its popular and well-attended San Francisco Biotechnology Vendor Showcase exhibition twice-annually: once a year at the Parnassus Campus and once at the newer Mission Bay Campus. The first showcase event of 2013 will be the Mission Bay show, which will take place on February 6, 2013. For information on exhibiting and funding, click the button below or call one of our sales reps:
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