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June 20, 2016

Stem-cell research funding key to bioscience collaboration

Collaboration between University of Connecticut and Yale scientists, researchers, physicians and entrepreneurs cannot be underestimated, as Gregory Seay writes in “Breaking Silos” (April 11, 2016). This “silo-less” approach has led to resource sharing—invaluable in these times of limited funding—and creative problem solving. We applaud Seay’s analysis of our institutions’ shared goals of keeping technology, intellectual property and biotech startups in state.

We’d like to add to the article by pointing out the genesis of this partnership, which dates to 2005. That year, Connecticut lawmakers passed landmark legislation that provided $100 million in state funding for stem-cell research projects over a 10-year period.

That money helped both universities establish core lab facilities that continue to provide top-notch imaging and DNA sequencing capacity as well as gene editing and differentiation of patient-specific stem cell lines to a global community of researchers.

Today, more than 150 scientists across the state work in stem-cell research. More than 650 peer-reviewed articles directly impacted by this program have been published; nearly 200 patents have been filed since 2006.

According to data gathered by Yale’s Stem Cell Center, this funding helped create 350 jobs in Connecticut over the past decade. The success of Yale and UConn’s collaborative participation in Connecticut’s stem-cell initiative was a key factor in attracting the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine to our State.

In 2014, the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Fund changed its name to the Regenerative Medicine Research Fund, and is now managed by the public-private venture fund organization, Connecticut Innovations.

This change reflects the fast-growing area of personalized and genomic medicine and the programs mentioned in the article—PITCH, CBIT and YEI—as well as our stem-cell research, are crucial to the state’s ability to continue its lead in biomedical research and innovations.

We look forward to more collaboration.

Haifan Lin, Ph.D.,

Director, Yale Stem Cell Center

Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology

Yale School of Medicine 

New Haven

Marc Lalande, Ph.D.

Director, Stem Cell Institute

Health Net Professor of Genetics & Genome Sciences

UCONN School of Medicine


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