Yale researchers capture the bulk of new stem cell grants

Yale University researchers captured nearly three-quarters of the $9.8 million in stem cell research funds awarded Monday by a state panel, according to a list released by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office.

Besides the $7.25 million awarded in total to 13 projects overseen by Yale researchers, the Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee also assigned $2.55 million in total to six projects based either at the University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs or at the UConn Health Center in Farmington.

“Connecticut’s continued support of stem cell research has allowed for exciting and innovative research to take place right here in our state,” Malloy said. “The research projects funded by these grants allow scientists to do revolutionary work that puts Connecticut at the forefront of bioscience industry.”

“The projects funded by these grants will advance the clinical use of stem cells to treat some of the most debilitating diseases and injuries,” added Department of Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen, who is chairwoman of the advisory committee. “The research conducted as a result of these grants brings hope to people coping with difficult health conditions.”

The single-largest award, $1.8 million, was awarded to D. Eugene Redmond’s study into dopaminergic neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells and used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

The largest grant awarded to UConn involved $500,000 it will use in partnership with Wesleyan University in Middletown to investigate cutting-edge technologies to power stem cell cores.

Mullen’s panel chose the winners from among 88 stem cell funding applications that had been accepted for consideration in January.

Monday’s awards are the latest in the state’s commitment to fund $100 million in stem cell research over 10 years. So far, the state has awarded nearly $60 million to researchers at UConn, Yale and Wesleyan to investigate a wide range of topics, including cartilage joint damage, cancer, heart attacks and even a cure for baldness.

Malloy has promoted the state’s future in stem cell research. The state committed nearly $300 million to bring the Maine-based Jackson Laboratories to Connecticut. The funds will help the genetics research institute build a research center near the UConn Health Center in Farmington and subsidize operating costs. In exchange, the project is expected to bring in jobs over the next 10 years.