Stanford researcher gets funding from state stem cell agency to develop new tools, techniques

STANFORD, Calif. - A researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine was awarded $949,608 by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Dec. 10 to help develop powerful new stem cell research tools and techniques.

The Stanford investigator granted the award is Helen Blau, PhD.

The new CIRM grants are being disbursed under a program to foster stem cell research by improving underlying technologies and practices in the field. Stem cells have great potential to shape the future of medicine because they have the unique ability to become different types of tissue and can potentially repair or replace damaged or defective cells in the body. However, significant technical hurdles have to be overcome before the research can be widely used in clinical practice. CIRM believes that new tools and techniques developed specifically for stem cell research will facilitate more rapid progress in the field.

The grant to Blau, PhD, the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Professor of Pharmacology, will be aimed at improving the ability to observe and direct how stem cells grow and change into other cell types. Blau's laboratory will make use of its extensive experience with muscle stem cells. They will study individual mouse muscle stem cells isolated in microwells to characterize how they change and react when exposed to various factors. They will also monitor changes in the cells with a bioluminescent marker Blau developed. Ultimately they plan to develop techniques for isolating and characterizing human muscle stem cells.

CIRM was established in 2005 after California voters passed Proposition 71. That proposition provided $3 billion over 10 years to fund stem cell research at nonprofit research institutions around the state. Stanford has thus far received nearly $95 million from CIRM, more than any other single institution.


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