The Broad Foundation donates $25 million to UCSF stem cell program

By Jennifer O'Brien

Eli & Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine & Stem Cell Research at UCSF

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is donating $25 million to UCSF’s stem cell program, one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the United States. The funds will be put toward the construction of a headquarters for the program, which will enable scientists to continue their groundbreaking advances in identifying strategies to treat a wide range of diseases, UCSF announced today.

The building is designed to enhance scientists’ efforts to develop novel treatments for such diseases as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer.

In recognition of the gift, the Institute for Regeneration Medicine at UCSF will be renamed the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. 

The gift was announced today at a news conference at UCSF attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chair of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Robert Klein, Nobel laureate and UCSF Chancellor J. Michael Bishop, MD, Chairman of the UC Regents Richard Blum, UC President Mark Yudof, Acting Dean of the UCSF School of Medicine Sam Hawgood, MB, BS, philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, stem cell center director and renowned neuroscientist Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD, and other faculty, staff and supporters.

“Scientists have made significant headway in understanding the basic biology of stem cells in recent years, and UCSF scientists have been at the forefront of these efforts,” said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which is the largest non-governmental donor to stem cell research in California, having given $75 million to support or create stem cell centers at UCSF, USC and UCLA. 

“The UCSF center’s headquarters will be a world-class facility that will enable scientists to accelerate their research, by bringing some of the world’s leading stem cell scientists together under one roof and providing them with a setting that promotes collaboration and an exchange of ideas, both key to making clinical advances to improve human health.”

“Eli and Edythe Broad have shown extraordinary generosity and vision with this gift,” said UCSF Chancellor Bishop.  “Discoveries in the medical sciences result from rigorous inquiry, creative thinking and, sometimes, serendipity. They also result from the proximity of scientists working on similar problems from different angles. Nowhere is this more true than in the stem cell field. The Broad’s gift will directly advance this effort.”

“This $25 million contribution gives us hope and offers so much potential to millions of people who suffer from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and many other illnesses,” said Schwarzenegger. “Because of Eli and Edythe’s generous gift to UCSF today, some of the world’s leading stem-cell scientists will be able to come together under one roof in a new research building—creating an environment for collaboration and enhancing research efforts. This revolutionary science has the potential to not only improve and save lives, it can also improve our economy, and I am proud that California is leading the country in this crucial research.”

Schwarzenegger, whose father-in-law, Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver, has Alzheimer’s disease, strongly supports stem cell research. As governor, he arranged for the state to loan $150 million to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, together with the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and others, so that the agency overseeing Proposition 71 could advance during multiple legal challenges, which subsequently were dismissed.

The $123-million building, which will be located on the UCSF Parnassus Campus, will bring together 25 labs involved in various areas of human and animal embryonic and adult stem cell and related early-cell studies. It will serve as the core of a research program that will continue to extend throughout UCSF, encompassing 125 labs exploring the earliest stages of animal and human development, mechanisms of organ repair, immune rejection, biomaterials, and cancer, with an eye toward clinical therapies.

Designed by renowned architect Raphael Viñoly, the building is a series of four split-level floors with terraced grass roofs and solar orientation. Open labs flow into each other, with office and lounge areas located on the circulation route between the labs, promoting interaction for the entire research community in the building.

“The building presents an extremely exciting opportunity that will allow us to move scientists now scattered across several locations into scientific ‘neighborhoods’ within a single site, enabling them to work closely on common scientific problems and allowing for the use of shared core facilities,” said Kriegstein.

For example, scientists working to create insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells to treat diabetes will be together in so-called “clusters,” but they will also be based near a cluster of researchers working to create neurons to treat such brain diseases as Parkinson’s disease, because stem cells undergo similar molecular signaling on the path to becoming both cell types.

The building will be connected by an enclosed walking bridge to inpatient and outpatient clinics at UCSF Medical Center, supporting the long-term goal of translating basic research findings to clinical trials.

Construction of the building, which began in late summer 2008, is scheduled for completion in mid-2010.

The construction of the building is a fitting metaphor for the advances that UCSF, and the field at large, have made in recent years, said Kriegstein. Beginning in the late 1990s, UCSF was one of two U.S. universities, along with the University of Wisconsin, that pioneered the human embryonic stem cell field.

Because scientists were prohibited by President George W. Bush’s stem cell policy from conducting these studies in federally funded buildings, UCSF scientists were forced to carry out their research in challenging circumstances—first in segregated space within an existing UCSF lab, later in rented space at an off-campus site and subsequently 40 miles away at Geron Corp., through a joint project.

More recently, through a combination of private donations, university funds and CIRM grants, UCSF has been able to create space to bring the research back onto its campus. But the new building drives the enterprise to a new level.

Since the establishment of the CIRM, UCSF stem cell scientists have been a top recipient of grants from the Institute. Researchers based at UCSF have received 27 research grants and two facilities grants, for a total of $82,378,058. Those based at the UCSF-affiliated J. David Gladstone Institutes have received 10 research grants and one facilities grant, for a total of $8,787,142.

UCSF has recruited 16 new faculty members to the Institute in the last three years. The relocation of scientists into the building will free up space in existing laboratories and offices, allowing for additional recruitments.

Support for construction of the building, in addition to the Broad gift, includes a $34.9 million grant from CIRM, awarded in May 2008, and a $16 million donation from Ray and Dagmar Dolby, who launched UCSF’s fund raising campaign for the building in 2005.

About UCSF
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

About UCSF’s stem cell program
The Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF is one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the United States. It encompasses 125 labs made up of scientists exploring the earliest stages of animal and human development. The goal of these studies is to understand how disorders and diseases develop and how they could be treated with the knowledge of, and use of, stem cells and other early-stage cells.

About The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Broad foundation invests in 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 the Whitehead Institute, the Broads in 2003 announced a $100 million founding gift to create The Eli and Edythe Broad Institute for biomedical research.  The Institute’s aim is to realize the promise of the human genome to revolutionize clinical medicine and to make knowledge freely available to scientists around the world.  They gave a second $100 million gift to The Broad Institute in 2005, and in 2008, they gave an additional $400 million to endow and make permanent the world’s leading genomics institute. The Broads have supported the advancement of stem cell research, particularly in California, through the creation in 2006 of the Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.  In 2007, the Broads announced a major gift to the University of California, Los Angeles for the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.  The Broad Foundation’s Internet address is