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CIRM Pumps Nearly $3M into Heart of UCSD Bioresearch

Posted by Robert Larkin on Wed, Mar 18, 2015

CIRM2The best course of action for those affected with congestive heart failure, which affects millions of Americans, is most often a heart valve transplant. Since the condition is so prevalent, however, there are seldom enough donors to meet the rising demand for replacement valves.

Thanks to recent funding given to the University of California, San Diego, those affected by congestive heart failure may have renewed hope in the form of ongoing stem cell bioresearch projects.

Shaochen Chen, PhD, professor in the Department of Nanoengineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering and a member of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at UC San Diego, received a $1.3 million in CIRM funding for development of 3D bioprinting techniques using human embryonic stem cell-derived heart muscle cells to create new cardiac tissue.

chenChen and colleagues are exploring the possibility of engineering healthy cardiac tissues bioprinted from heart muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes, created from human embryonic stem cells. These tissues could then be implanted in a damaged heart, restoring function.

In addition to Chen's study, Shyni Varghese, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering and director of the Bio-Inspired Materials and Stem Cell Engineering Laboratory, received a $1.4 CIRM grant to improve in vivo function of transplanted stem cells.

Varghese’s lab focuses upon the complex interactions of cells with their surrounding microenvironment, and how the conditions necessary to promote normal, healthy survival and growth occur.

The funding was part of almost $30 million in new Tools and Technologies awards announced at CIRM’s monthly meeting in San Francisco.

Recently, the promise of stem cell therapies has dramatically advanced toward clinical application. Late last year, three first-in-human, stem cell-based phase one safety trials were launched under the auspices of Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at UC San Diego Health. The trials are investigating therapies to treat spinal cord injuries, diabetes and leukemia.

UC San Diego is one of three sites in the CIRM Alpha Clinics network. Designation as an Alpha Clinic provides additional funding and support to speed clinical development of potential stem cell therapies. The CIRM Alpha Clinic at UC San Diego is the home for cell therapy development at the Sanford Center. The new grants raise UC San Diego’s total to more than $150 million in CIRM funding since the first awards in 2006. 

Other significant statistics from UCSD include:

  •       UC San Diego received a total of $1.1 billion in research funding for all fields during the 2014 fiscal year.
  •       UC San Diego is to break ground on the $269 million Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute.
  •       The University of California, San Diego received $20 million in order to continue research focused on understanding the pathology of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

ucsd_event-resized-600With so many active research projects and a surplus of research funding, the University of California, San Diego is considered a $1 billion marketplace for life science research. UCSD is home to over 500 active researchers that rely on the latest biotechnology and lab supplies to further their important work every day.

Lab vendors and equipment suppliers who want to access this market by networking with and promoting products directly to UCSD researchers can attend the Biotechnology Vendor Showcase™ Events, held semiannually at UC San Diego.

This popular event brings together more than 600 of UCSD’s most active and well-funded researchers to learn about the latest biotech while meeting with industry professionals in a university setting. To learn more about attending this event, click the appropriate link below:

Researchers: Attend UCSD Event Learn more about UCSD Event

Tags: CA, Stem cell research, California, 2015, San Diego, SDVS, UCSD, CIRM, Biotechnology Vendor Showcase Event

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