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Stem Cell Facility Expands Campus' Research Capabilities

February 23, 2011
UC Merced's Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry will support the campus' cutting-edge research into understanding stem cells, which are vital for regenerative medicine.

The University of California, Merced, today celebrates the opening of its state-of-the-art Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry, made possible through the support of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and Ed and Jeanne Kashian of Fresno.

 The foundry, housed on the first floor of the Science and Engineering Building, will expand the research capabilities of UC Merced’s stem cell faculty members and serve as a resource for researchers throughout the state.

The foundry will allow them to manipulate and study individual stem cells with highly-specialized instruments. This kind of analysis helps researchers better understand how stem cells make decisions — the goal being to use the cells for regenerative medicine, which could combat diseases such as cancer, heart disease and neural degeneration.

UC Merced’s Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry will allow campus researchers to conduct single cell analysis with highly-specialized tools.

“This facility is a testament to the caliber of the campus’ research and is also an investment in the state’s economy,” Vice Chancellor for Research Sam Traina said. “The stem cell advancements, coupled with entrepreneurs ready to take the new knowledge to market, will contribute to developing a biotech industry in the region.”

A $4.36 million grant from CIRM in 2008 funded construction, and the generous support of the community equipped the 3,905-square-foot facility, which includes two ultra-clean rooms that prevent dust and other particles from interfering with the research.

The lab will offer custom lab-on-a-chip devices that can deliver genes and chemicals to single cells at a time, allowing for more efficient and less expensive studies. The lab is an interdisciplinary facility that will allow UC Merced faculty to work together to solve some of society’s most challenging health problems.

Professor Jennifer Manilay, a stem cell researcher, and UC Merced’s technical and space allocation manager Steve Rabedeaux will be available to answer media questions from 11 to 11:30 a.m. today at the foundry.

Manilay, a Harvard-educated immunologist is studying transplant technologies that can help the body accept transplanted tissue, derived from stem cells, without it being attack by the host’s immune system.

Recognizing the impact UC Merced will make to improve lives on both a regional and global basis, the Kashians gave $100,000 to support the foundry. A microscopy room in the facility will be named in their honor.