UCLA has received a $10 million gift from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to fund education, faculty recruitment and retention, and innovative research at the campus’s stem cell research center. The foundation also announced $10 million gifts to the Broad family’s namesake stem cell research centers UC San Francisco and the University of Southern California, bringing its total support of stem cell research centers in California to $110 million since 2005.
“We are proud to support California’s growing stem cell research and treatment infrastructure led by the talented scientists and staff at the Broad Stem Cell Centers at UCLA, UCSF and USC,” said Broad Foundation President Gerun Riley. “With their commitment to identifying potential treatments for cancers, heritable disorders and more, we believe the centers will continue to make life-changing medical breakthroughs that will impact the lives of people around the world.”
The gift to UCLA will propel cutting-edge research toward clinical application. Over the past 12 years, the center has achieved critical successes in stem cell gene therapy, stem cell immunotherapy, cell replacement strategies and drug discovery. The new funding from The Broad Foundation will enable UCLA scientists to build upon these achievements by advancing promising therapies across the so-called “valley of death,” where a lack of funding often prevents the translation of promising laboratory discoveries into clinical trials. The center will also use the funds to support technology development, including enhancing the synergy between stem cell technologies and nanomedicine to facilitate the development of less invasive and more effective therapies.
“The Broad Foundation’s transformative early investment enabled our three centers to attract the best and brightest investigators from around the world,” said Dr. Owen Witte, founding director of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and University Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UCLA. “These pioneering researchers have embraced the Broads’ mission of improving human health by building a truly collaborative scientific community in California.”
The gift is part of the Centennial Campaign for UCLA, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.
The $110 million invested by the foundation helped create the three stem cell centers and the funds continue to sustain and bolster their cutting-edge research. Scientists at the centers have developed a cure for the genetic immune system deficiency commonly known as bubble baby disease — an advance pioneered at UCLA — as well as launching clinical trials for treatments of cancer, blinding eye diseases, spinal cord injuries, HIV, sickle cell disease and other life-threatening blood disorders.
The renewed investment from The Broad Foundation benefits:
- The three centers’ stem cell training programs, which provide students and graduates from diverse academic, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds a world-class training experience that is fully integrated into the institutions’ medical schools and clinical enterprises. Collectively, these programs have educated 123 graduate students, 117 postdoctoral fellows and 87 early career physician-scientists.
- Faculty recruitment and retention, giving the centers critical resources to retain seasoned experts and attract the very best early- and mid-career investigators. These talented professionals will bring fresh perspectives and unique expertise to the centers’ highly collaborative research programs.
In addition, at USC, the new funding will support the center’s core facilities and training programs, enable recruitment and attract collaborative research funding to apply stem cell-based technologies to the challenge of age-associated diseases. Part of the foundation’s gift will be distributed through the Broad Innovation Awards, a grant program that encourages collaboration among stem cell researchers, engineers, biologists and other experts.
UCSF will leverage the funding to launch initiatives to better understand and potentially cure developmental disorders. Inspired by the potential for gene- and cell-based therapies to treat patients at the earliest stages in their lifespan, including a groundbreaking clinical trial in which researchers used stem cells to treat an unborn patient with a fatal blood disorder called alpha thalassemia, the center aims to begin a broader effort to dissect the molecular and genetic origins of heritable diseases for which early intervention may be possible.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation invests in innovative scientific and medical research in the areas of human genomics, stem cell research and inflammatory bowel disease. In an unprecedented partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, the foundation committed $700 million to fund The Broad Institute, the world’s leading genomic medicine research institute that is focused on using the power of genomics to understand human disease.
The Broad Foundation has also invested in advancing stem cell research, particularly in California through the creation of the Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF.