Page 1

A Glimpse into the Future of Medicine ...

“This is exciting. We are at the threshold of the realization of new medical discoveries – based on stem cells and regenerative medicine – that could prove to be the next great advance in medicine.” — Michael V. Drake, M.D. Chancellor

The Potential Imagine a world without Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, cancer and Parkinson’s disease, a world in which those paralyzed with major spinal cord injuries might walk again. UC Irvine stem cell specialists envision such a place and work hard every day to move us closer to making it a reality. For more than 40 years, UC Irvine scientists have tried to unlock the potential of stem cells. Today, more than 60 university researchers in biology, engineering, medicine and other disciplines collaborate throughout campus and in partnership with private enterprise to advance stem cell research and teaching. Their efforts have made UC Irvine an international leader in this burgeoning field and have given a glimmer of hope to millions who suffer from the estimated 70 devastating diseases and disorders that stem cells have the potential to treat and one day even cure. 2

Over the years, UC Irvine scientists have made several major breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, including important research into the use of human stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries. As a measure of UC Irvine’s excellence in stem cell research, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, has awarded the university more than $60 million in funding to support its groundbreaking work. CIRM, created by California voters in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, is underwriting several multimillion-dollar stem cell research projects at UC Irvine with the potential to revolutionize the practice of medicine. Among them is an attempt to develop a new therapy for Alzheimer’s disease involving human neural stem cells. In one of the most significant milestones in the university’s 45-year history, UC Irvine recently opened a state-of-the-art cell research building, thanks in large part to a $10-million-gift from Laguna Beach philanthropists Sue and Bill Gross and CIRM’s generous $27.2-million grant. Sue and Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute is the first major stem cell center to open in Southern California and will serve as the hub for stem cell research and educational activities in the region. The $80-million, four-story building — the state’s first such facility built from the ground up and designed specifically for stem cell research, will also provide access to world-class equipment and technology to dozens of laboratory-based and clinical researchers. The building also features dedicated-space for future human clinical trials. “At UC Irvine, we realize the importance of the mission that this new facility presents to us,” said Peter Donovan, director of UC Irvine’s stem cell research center and a renowned researcher into the basic properties of stem cells. “We know stem cell research and regenerative medicine represent hope to millions of people, and we aspire to fully deliver on that potential.” 33

Major Discoveries  Based on the pioneering spinal cord work by UC Irvine neurobiologist Hans Keirstead, Ph.D., biotechnology firm Geron Corp. hopes to conduct one of the first, if not the first, FDA-approved embryonic stem cell clinical trials on humans  Peter Donovan, Ph.D., director of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, and his co-researchers have devised new methods for growing stem cells that are 100 percent more effective than previous techniques. The ability to grow a large number of healthy stem cells gives a valuable tool to scientists, who can gain insight into the causes of diseases by monitoring cell development.  UC Irvine stem cell scientists are leaders in regeneration, large-scale production of specialized cells with very high purity, and in methods for using such cells to treat damaged tissues.


 Scientists Lisa Flanagan, Ph.D., Abraham Lee, Ph.D., and Ed Monuki, M.D., Ph.D., have developed a device that separates stem cells by their electric charge, making sorting easier, quicker and more cost effective. Without proper sorting, stem cells have little or no therapeutic value.

 In a study headed by Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology Charles Limoli, Ph.D., UC Irvine researchers have found that cranially transplanted human embryonic stem cells can alleviate the adverse side effects of irradiation on cognition in rats, a finding that suggests stem cells could also help restore memory in humans who undergo radiation treatments for brain tumors.

 Neurologist Steven Cramer, M.D., received federal approval to proceed with a novel clinical trial that coaxes the brain’s own stem cells to grow new neurons in regions damaged by stroke, one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.


Training the Researchers of Tomorrow  UC Irvine was one of only six institutions in the state chosen by CIRM to train new researchers in the use of human embryonic stem cells.  Under the direction of researcher Leslie Lock, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biological chemistry and developmental & cell biology, UC Irvine offers an innovative fiveday stem cell course that has trained more than 100 graduate students, post-doctorate fellows and academics from around the world in the uses of embryonic stem cells. Shaping the Future of Stem Cell Research UC Irvine scientists’ trailblazing research, especially in such neurological disorders as Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, have made the university a beacon of light in stem cells. Major CIRM-funded research includes:  Alzheimer’s Disease: UC Irvine neuroscientist Frank LaFerla, Ph.D., received a $3.6-million grant to test in mice whether human stem cells can reverse dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The study builds on earlier work that showed mouse neural stem cells can restore memory in mice with Alzheimer’slike symptoms.  Spinal Cord Injury: Hans Keirstead, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, received a $2.4-million grant to create a renewable source of spinal cord tissue cells with hopes of restoring upper limb function compromised by spinal cord injuries.  Huntington’s Disease: Leslie Thompson, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry & human behavior and neurobiology & behavior, received a $1.4-million grant to develop a new line of human stem cells to better understand how Huntington’s disease begins, progresses and what drugs might stop it. A neurodegenerative condition, Huntington’s disease causes physical and mental impairment and eventually death.  Multiple Sclerosis: Thomas Lane, Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology & biochemistry, is investigating how stem cells can repair nervous system damage caused by such diseases as multiple sclerosis.  Eye Disorders: Henry Klassen, M.D., a UC Irvine ophthalmologist, is investigating the use of stem cells to treat retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, diseases that cause blindness by destroying light-sensing cells in the retina. 6

Hans Keirstead, Ph.D.: Visions of Healing the Sick It began with a young boy who had visions of healing the sick. At age 11, Hans Keirstead dreamed of coming up with treatments that would allow those paralyzed from spinal cord injuries to walk again and those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders to regain mental clarity. Nearly three decades later, the UC Irvine neurobiologist has made considerable progress in turning his childhood reveries into reality. “If paralyzed people are going to walk again, it might be because of the scientist in this story,” began a 2006 “60 Minutes” segment on Keirstead. Men’s Vogue called him an “audacious innovator” who has been “the first to make discoveries many thought impossible, and at a clip seldom seen in science.” Keirstead made headlines when paralyzed lab rats he injected with human stem cells recovered the ability to walk. He also became the first researcher to transform stem cells into a highly purified type of nervous system cells that allows spinal cords to function. Geron Corp., a biotechnology company, hopes to conduct one of the first, if not the first, embryonic stem cell clinical trials on humans based on Keirstead’s pioneering spinal cord work. “Stem cells are one of the greatest medical discoveries that humankind has ever seen,” he said.


Faculty Spotlights

Frank LaFerla, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND)  A national leader in Alzheimer’s research  He and UC Irvine researcher Mathew Blurton-Jones have shown for the first time that neural stem cells can rescue memory in mice with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, a finding that raises hopes for a treatment for humans with the disease.

Aileen Anderson, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Anatomy& Neurobiology  A pioneer in the use of adult and human embryonic stem cells to discover treatments for central nervous system and spinal cord injuries  A cutting-edge researcher in investigating the role of inflammation following spinal cord injury


Thomas Lane, Ph.D. Professor of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry  Leading an effort at UC Irvine to determine whether a stem cell-based treatment can repair neurological damage caused by multiple sclerosis  One of 15 U.S. researchers to receive the prestigious five-year Collaborative MS Research Center Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society  Helped discover a potential way to prevent MS from affecting the central nervous system

Leslie Thompson, Ph.D. Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior and Neurobiology & Behavior  Helped identify the gene that causes Huntington’s disease, a fatal brain disorder  In 2008, CIRM awarded Thompson a $1.4-million grant to develop new stem cell lines for use in treating Huntington’s disease.  The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Thompson and colleagues at UC Irvine, The Gladstone Institute, Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts General Hospital $3.7 million to use stem cell lines developed from patients with Huntington’s to better understand the progression of the disease and how to develop drugs to treat it.  Winner of the prestigious 2009 Huntington’s Disease Society of America’s Research Award 99

Stem Cell Pioneer Peter Donovan, Ph.D.: “A Journey of Exploration” Developmental biologist Peter Donovan, Ph.D., had one of the best jobs in all of science. As co-director of the Stem Cell Biology Program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, he held a prestigious leadership position at arguably the finest medical research institution in the country. But in 2006, this pioneering researcher in the basic properties of stem cells headed west for UC Irvine. In doing so, he joined an institution that he thought could become a world leader in stem cell research. Under Donovan’s leadership, UC Irvine has just opened Sue and Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute, one of the largest and most technologically advanced stem cell research facilities in the country. In addition, Donovan has collaborated with colleagues to secure millions in grant money to support UC Irvine’s renowned five-day workshop, which has trained more than 100 graduate students, post-doctorate fellows and academicians in the uses of embryonic stem cells. In the late 1980s, Donovan discovered how germ cells could be turned into stem cells, which could then make any number of cells in mice. This finding suggested the possibility of creating healthy stem cells to replace damaged or destroyed cells in humans. At UC Irvine, Donovan and his co-researchers have devised new methods for growing stem cells that are 100-percent more effective than previous techniques. They have also developed methods for genetically altering stem cells to create new models of human disease. “Working with my incredible colleagues to build this world-class research program has been one of the most rewarding times of my career,” Donovan said.


Philanthropic Support Your passionate support of stem cell research at UC Irvine would do nothing less than help transform the practice of modern medicine. With your help, our renowned scientists will have the resources to undertake groundbreaking research that might one day lead to a cure for cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and a host of other diseases and conditions that have plagued humanity for centuries. Your kind gifts will also fund student scholarships to attract the best students; help recruit and retain world-class faculty in a very competitive market; underwrite lectures and other educational activities; and make possible the purchase of advanced technologies at Sue and Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute, the region’s first stem cell center and an embodiment of UC Irvine’s dedication to a better, brighter tomorrow. The future is now at UC Irvine. Please help us carry out our vital mission to Discover. Teach. Heal.

Numerous naming opportunities are available within the Sue and Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute. “For more information about making a gift, please contact: Sue Totten, Health Sciences Development, at 949.824.0166 or

11 11


Translational Research Center




Core Laboratory


Gait Laboratory



Research Floor

$2,500,000 each

Research Laboratory

$1,000,000 each

Conference Room

$250,000 each

Patient Waiting Area

$250,000 each

Interactive Research Space/Conference Room

$150,000 each

Exam Room (2)

$75,000 each

Office (6)

$25,000 each


Conference Center


Pre-Function Room


Board Room



$500,000 All namings require final approval by the Chancellor

“For more information about making a gift, please contact: Sue Totten, Health Sciences Development, at 949.824.0166 or 12

Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center  

A glimpse in the future of medicine...