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Statement From UMass President On Governor's Stem Cell Policy Announcement Today & UMass Stem Cell Initiatives

University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson today expressed his strong support for Governor Patrick's proposal to reverse state restrictions on stem cell research imposed by the previous administration, citing the importance of the research in developing cures for disease and in maintaining Massachusetts' national leadership in the life science industry. Wilson also serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which oversees state funding for life science initiatives.

"As the president of the University of Massachusetts, which does significant life sciences research and also collaborates with life science industry groups, I am very pleased that Governor Patrick plans to reverse the restrictions on stem cell research imposed by the previous administration," said University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson. "Stem cell research is an important field that holds the promise of providing cures for some of the world's most intractable diseases as well as important economic opportunities for Massachusetts. The University of Massachusetts looks forward to expanding its work in stem cell research and related fields and collaborating with state leaders, other academic and research institutions and business groups to help ensure that Massachusetts is competitive with other states in this research area."

Wilson's support was echoed by Dr. Robert W. Finberg, Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who serves as Chair of the University of Massachusetts Stem Cell Research & Development working group and Co-chair of the Massachusetts Biomedical Research Advisory Council, a group established by the state's stem cell legislation.

"We believe there is great opportunity for stem cell research to be done in Massachusetts. There is both talent and interest in the Massachusetts academic and biotechnology community, and we feel it is essential that the Governor act to provide support for this exciting area of research, as has been done in several other states, and make certain that there is a climate friendly to research using stem cells. This will enhance not only academic research but the growing biomedical industry in the state and support new discoveries that will benefit the health of the citizens of Massachusetts," said Dr. Finberg.



The University of Massachusetts has proposed establishing a UMass Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine that would build upon existing UMass strengths including its world-class programs in gene silencing (led by Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, Ph.D.) and related areas at the UMass Medical School and the strong life sciences research portfolio at the University's Amherst campus, especially the nationally-recognized programs in animal sciences and biomaterials. The proposal was designed by a working group of UMass experts that included Dr. Robert W. Finberg of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and George M. Langford, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics at UMass Amherst. It was developed in response to a mandate from state leaders and $2.5 million in seed funding.

The proposal, finalized in February 2007, is supported by President Wilson and the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees and would cost an estimated $66.4 million over six years for faculty hiring, core user facilities, collaborative research project funding and the construction and expansion of work space.

The University of Massachusetts is a state leader in research and development, conducting over $400 million in sponsored research at its five campuses in 2006, including $250 million in life sciences research.

For more information on the proposal, you can read the UMass White Paper on the proposed UMass Institute for Stem Cell Research & Regenerative Medicine: 


Contact: Libby DeVecchi, 617.287.7023; Bill Wright, 617.287.7065



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