CMRC Children's Memorial Research Center
State Grant Results in $2 Million for Stem Cell Research

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s executive order last July to provide $10 million in state-funded grants for stem cell research
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich commits $10 million to stem cell research

Children’s Memorial Research Center recently received nearly $2 million in a two-year grant from the state of Illinois for research on reversal of disease progression by stem cells. The research center was awarded the largest single grant out of 10 local institutions receiving funds from Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute (IRMI), which was created by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s executive order last July to provide $10 million in state-funded grants for stem cell research. Children’s Memorial was the only pediatric institution to receive IRMI funding. The research center’s president and scientific director, Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, will be the principal investigator.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity and achievement of research center investigators, who worked as a team to integrate their respective areas of expertise and interests in stem cell research into one, meritorious center grant proposal,” says Hendrix, who is also the Medical Research Institute Council Professor at Children’s Memorial. “This important funding from the IRMI will allow us to generate significant data on the use of stem cells to reverse disease progression. It will also permit us to acquire a competitive advantage for extramural funding that will expedite the translation of stem cell research for public benefit.”

Children’s Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Patrick M. Magoon says this tremendous accomplishment for research at Children’s Memorial comes at a crucial time.

“With the expected reductions in growth of the National Institutes of Health budget and other restrictions, the future of all who participate in biomedical research will be challenging,” he says. “The leadership of the research enterprise at Children’s Memorial Medical Center by Dr. Hendrix is making us well positioned to compete for funding and contribute novel therapeutic approaches at this uniquely important time in our history.

The grant will cover five interacting projects focused on the study of human, rat and mouse stem cells for their potential to reverse progression of malignant tumors, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, brain injury and epilepsy. Assembled investigators include cancer and developmental biologists, basic and clinical researchers, and physician scientists. Four unique cores also have been designed to support this research.

The projects and cores covered by the grant include:

Project 1: Reversal of the Tumor Metastatic Phenotype by Human Stem Cells
Co-led by Mary J. C. Hendrix, PhD, and Philip M. Iannaccone, MD, PhD, with co-investigators Richard E. B. Seftor, PhD, Lynne-Marie Postovit, PhD, Elisabeth A. Seftor, BS, Marilyn L. G. Lamm, PhD, Sara C. Ahlgren, PhD, and David O. Walterhouse, MD

Project 2: Development of Human Muscle Stem Cell Therapy by Targeting the Notch Signaling Pathway
Co-led by William T. Tse, MD, PhD, and Morris Kletzel, MD, with co-investigators Rama S. Dwivedi, PhD, Jacek Topczewski, PhD, and Jolanta Topczewska, PhD

Project 3: Genetically Modified Human Stem Cells for Parkinson’s Disease
Led by Martha C. Bohn, PhD, with co-investigators Elio F. Vanin, PhD, and Qin Chang, MD, PhD

Project 4: Are There Stem Cells in the Adult Brain?
Led by Francis G. Szele, PhD

Project 5: Stem Cell Therapy for Childhood Epilepsy
Co-led by Jhumku D. Kohtz, PhD, and Sookyong Koh, MD, PhD

Core A: Development and Characterization of New Stem Cell Lines
Co-led by Jose B. Cibelli, DVM, PhD, and Lon J. Van Winkel, PhD

Core B: Analysis of Molecular Pathways Contributing to Stem Cell Plasticity
Led by Marcelo Bento Soares, PhD

Core C: Cell sorting and Imaging
Co-led by William T. Tse, MD, PhD, and Philip M. Iannaccone, MD, PhD

Core D: Genetic Modification of Stem Cells with Viral Vectors
Co-led by Martha C. Bohn, PhD, and Elio F. Vanin, PhD