$40M Establishes New Center for Stem Cell Genomics in Bay Area, SD

Xconomy San Diego — 

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine today awarded $40 million to create a new Center of Excellence in Stem Cell Genomics, to be led by Stanford University molecular geneticist Michael Snyder and including major research groups in San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Palo Alto.

Snyder was at the center of an important paper published in 2012 that offered an outline of how the emerging field of personalized medicine could develop. In sequencing all 6 billion bases of Snyder’s own genome, scientists determined he was genetically at risk for type 2 Diabetes.

Michael Snyder

Michael Snyder

The scientists continued to track billions of Snyder’s biomarkers, and spotted a big spike in his glucose levels—an early warning signal that prompted Snyder to change his diet and increase his exercise in a successful effort that reversed his slide into full-blown diabetes.

The new center’s headquarters will be at Stanford University, according to Kevin McCormack, a spokesman at the San Francisco headquarters of the California stem cell agency.

The stem cell agency said Stanford and the San Diego-based Salk Institute will serve as joint principal investigators of the new center of excellence. Four other San Diego organizations—UC San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, the J. Craig Venter Institute, and Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) will participate as scientific collaborators in the effort, and data coordination and management will be done at UC Santa Cruz.

The new center of excellence is intended to promote more scientific collaboration among research groups focused on genomics and stem cells. The goal is to share a deeper understanding of the genetic processes underlying cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health—and ultimately to find ways of using stem cells in such medical research and to develop new treatments.

The $40 million award includes $19 million to fund research, such as investigating disease mechanisms and the development of new technologies for this kind of work. The data coordination and management done at UC Santa Cruz will enable the center to share its findings with scientists in California and elsewhere.