Above right: Members of the UMass Medical School Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, from left to right: Maria Borowski, Education and Training Director; and International Stem Cell Registry Curators Kelly Smith, Ph.D., and Mai Luong, Ph.D.

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“This is the ‘life sciences moment’ at the beginning of what will undoubtedly be known as the ‘life sciences century.’ The University of Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to help the Commonwealth maintain its position as a global life sciences leader, which will yield significant medical and health benefits for all of mankind and ensure the vitality of the state’s economy.”

Michael F. Collins, M.D., Chancellor, UMass Medical School; Senior Vice President for Health Sciences

Leadership in Stem Cell Research

In the constantly evolving field of stem cell research, new discoveries that improve scientists’ understanding of cellular function and disease are made daily. No matter what lies ahead, the University of Massachusetts stands ready to make important contributions to shape this new scientific frontier.

“Stem cell research holds enormous promise for developing cures for debilitating diseases such as cancer, juvenile diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Gary Stein, chair of the Department of Cell Biology at UMass Medical School (UMMS) and Interim Director of the Cancer Center at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Stein, who also serves as the Interim Director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, has firsthand knowledge of the faculty excellence and pioneering programs at UMMS and UMass Amherst. When asked about the University’s expertise in stem cell research and related fields, he is unequivocal: “The University of Massachusetts is poised to be a global leader in this important new frontier of biological and clinical research.”

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UMass Medical School has an integrated stem cell research portfolio that includes the most comprehensive online stem cell registry worldwide, a stem cell bank, and a unique stem cell education and training program.

With state funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, UMMS is launching the Massachusetts Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) Bank. The hESC Bank will support a wide range of education and training, including opportunities for investigators from academia and the private sector to receive technical instruction on how to grow and utilize stem cells in an experimental setting.

Before human embryonic stem cells were first isolated by researchers in 1998, discoveries of embryonic stem cells in mice were made in the early 1980s. At UMass Amherst, animal stem cells have been used for years in its highly regarded animal genetics, reproduction, and immunology programs. Improving scientific understanding of processes that regulate the development and differentiation of stem cells in mice and other animals can provide critical knowledge that will improve human stem cell line development and growth.

The University’s stem cell research is part of its broader preeminence in the life sciences, a $247 million research area at UMass comprised of key strengths such as regenerative medicine, stem cell biology, RNA biology, gene therapy, health and bioinformatics, biomaterials, and nanotechnology.

People are the most valuable asset of any institution or business, and talent is the lifeblood of any regional or national economy. To compete in the technology-enabled global knowledge economy, workers and leaders must have both deep skills and broad perspectives. The five UMass campuses are focused on building a talent pool for today’s demanding economic environment, one that includes those business sectors that will be even more important in the coming years, such as life sciences, information technology, and sustainable energy.

Keeping the Commonwealth competitive means maintaining its status as a leading developer of cutting-edge technologies. Through our research activities and partnerships, and our regional incubators, we promote the formation of new and innovative companies, which in turn spur job creation in Massachusetts and attract skilled workers to the state from elsewhere. Approximately 60 percent of UMass graduates stay in Massachusetts to work for their entire careers, which is a significant advantage for the state in terms of maintaining a labor pool and tax base.

UMass is responsible for an estimated $4.3 billion of economic activity and 29,000 jobs in Massachusetts as reported in the University’s 2006 economic impact study. In the current economic climate, our contributions to the local and regional economy are more critical than ever—and our commitment has grown in kind.