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Wellcome and MRC join up on £8 million stem cell institute

The Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council have announced plans to build an £8 million centre for stem cell research. The institute is expected to bring together 30 research teams under one roof. These teams will be drawn from groups that study the three main types of stem cell: embryonic, adult and induced pluripotent cells.

The institute is also supported by Cancer Research UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the Swiss National Science Foundation and Pfizer. Hosted at the University of Cambridge, the institute sits among the largest cluster of biotechnology companies in Europe. Its founders hope this location will help to draw researchers from abroad.

“By joining forces with the Wellcome Trust to invest strategically in all areas of stem cell science, embracing both adult and embryonic stem cells we will create a competitive and attractive environment for future commercial investment in regenerative medicine,” said John Savill, chief executive of the MRC.

The institute is headed by Austin Smith, who directed the UK’s first institute for stem cell research, based at the University of Edinburgh.

The institute’s overall aims include understanding the role of stem and progenitor cells in disease, using stem cells to study the molecular pathogenesis of human diseases and therapeutic agents and supporting the next generation of stem cell scientists.