Cambridge Joins Harvard in Opening Stem-Cell Institute

The University of Cambridge will receive 8 million pounds ($12.5 million) to create a new stem-cell research center, joining those established at the University of Oxford and Harvard University.

The institute, which will unite 30 research teams, will be funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, the council said in a statement today. It will eventually be housed in an 8,000 square-meter facility to be constructed at the Cambridge Biomedical Research Campus. Cambridge, England, is home to the largest cluster of biotechnology companies in Europe, according to the statement.

Stem cells can reproduce themselves and can develop into any of the 200 or so cell types in the body. They are being explored as possible treatments for conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, blindness, spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

“Our aim is to close the knowledge gap and drive stem-cell research forward towards clinical applications,” Austin Smith, director of the new Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, said in the statement. “The world-class facilities will attract the best international talent from the fields of stem-cell biology and regenerative medicine to pursue this goal.”

Similar research organizations include the Oxford Stem Cell Institute, which links 42 research groups and is funded by the Oxford Martin School. The Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 2004, is a collaboration of 225 faculty members and 1,000 scientists, post-doctoral fellows and students.

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