"The promise of stem cell research is unlimited, and countless lives
hang in the balance," Blagojevich said. "It's clear we can't count
on the president to support stem cell research, and lawmakers in
Springfield have yet to act on a proposal that would provide $100
million over five years for research. So we are doing what we can
with the resources we have to fund stem cell research. I'm confident
that the seven recipients of this funding will make strides towards
curing diseases ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer's."
allocated $5 million of state funds from an administrative line in
the Department of Healthcare and Family Services' budget to fund
stem cell research in Illinois. Recipients were selected from
proposals previously submitted to the Department of Pubic Health's
Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute, but not funded. Selections
were based on recommendations from an outside panel of stem cell
research experts and bioethicists.
Funding was awarded to the following institutions:
Jasti Rao, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria,
for research into understanding how stem cells can help repair
spinal cord injury, heart failure and neurological diseases,
leading to new therapeutic approaches. The project will
determine the behavior of blood stem cells in various
environmental situations, such as various types of cancer.
Lawrence Schook, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for
research to evaluate and introduce new technologies for
clinical-grade human stem cell therapies for the repair or
replacement of diseased, damaged or nonfunctional organs and
tissues, using one's own or donor stem cells.
Dengping Yin, University of Illinois, Chicago, for use of human
umbilical cord blood stem cells to develop beta cells for
treatment of diabetes.
Matthew Stewart, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for
research to expand the use of certain stem cells for experiments
for clinical regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues.
$400,000 -- Fei
Wang, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for research to
provide new tools for studying the molecular mechanisms
underlying human embryonic stem cell fate determination in order
to contribute to effective strategies for tissue repair and
$400,000 -- Sara
Becker-Catania, University of Illinois, Chicago, for research to
promote the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into a
type of cell that will help patients with multiple sclerosis.
Stuart Adler, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, to
create a stem cell institute with the purpose of conducting
scientific research projects, establishing core facilities,
providing technical and ethical training, and establishing
outreach to patients and families.
"The University of Illinois is gratified by the receipt of these
grants and is proud of the faculty researchers engaged in
breakthrough, lifesaving discoveries," said University of Illinois
President B. Joseph White. "The University of Illinois has a large
and consequential presence in Illinois, the nation and the world.
The grants announced today and last April to researchers on our
Chicago, Urbana and Peoria campuses reflect the university's
statewide reach and impact on modern health care."
"Since its creation in 1970, the SIU School of Medicine has
worked to improve health care outcomes in central and southern
Illinois through education, research and service," said SIU
President Glenn Poshard. "It has successfully trained and placed
hundreds of physicians in rural areas, while also developing
significant medical research capabilities for Alzheimer's and
Parkinson's diseases. This grant will serve to broaden that research
and hopefully hasten results for citizens in medically underserved
areas of Illinois."
"We are very grateful to the governor for his support of these
essential research endeavors," said Sylvia Manning, chancellor of
the University of Illinois at Chicago. "These grants reflect the
excellence and dedication of our faculty. The promise of the
post-genomic era is to identify disease before it happens and
prevent its occurrence. Stem cell research provides a promising new
avenue to discover new and practical treatment approaches that can
have a real impact on the lives of our patients and communities."
Health care advocates joined the governor to voice their support
for stem cell research and the hope it holds for people struggling
with diseases like Parkinson's and autism.
"The Parkinson's Disease Foundation congratulates Governor
Blagojevich for taking a leadership role on this very important
issue, and we hope this will be an example to many other states --
and to the White House," said Robin Elliott, executive director,
Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
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"The Autism Society of Illinois believes that this avenue of
research holds tremendous promise for children and adults with
autism," said Peter King, legislative chair for the Autism Society
of Illinois. "The rising number of those diagnosed with autism today
is overwhelming, and Illinois cannot afford to leave any stone
unturned in its search for the cause, effective treatment and cure
of this devastating disability. ASI supports all efforts that work
towards providing the answers to unlocking autism and other
In April, the governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and
Comptroller Dan Hynes in announcing 10 grants worth a total of $10
million for lifesaving stem cell research at several Illinois
hospitals and research institutions.
"Stem cell research has the potential to find cures for
life-threatening diseases, and today's investment puts us closer to
doing that," said Quinn.
"In the face of federal inaction, Governor Blagojevich has shown
leadership in pushing for long-term funding of stem cell research,"
Hynes said. "By doing so, he has restored the hopes of thousands of
families in Illinois who suffer debilitating and deadly diseases."
Last summer, by executive order, Blagojevich and Hynes created
the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute, making Illinois the
first state in the Midwest, and only the fourth state in the nation,
to commit public funds to stem cell research. The institute's
program is designed to issue grants for stem cell research to study
therapies, protocols, medical procedures, possible cures for and
potential mitigations of major diseases, injuries and orphan
diseases; to support all stages of the process of developing cures,
from laboratory research through successful clinical trials; and to
establish the appropriate regulatory standards for research and
Researching and studying stem cells allows scientists and doctors
to better understand what causes serious medical illnesses and
conditions such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, spinal cord injury, stroke
and heart disease, in hopes of discovering new ways to treat or even
Stem cells are cells that have the potential to develop into many
different types of healthy new cells in the body. As described by
the National Institutes of Health, they act like an internal repair
system for the body. Stem cells can divide to replenish other cells
for as long as the body is alive. When a stem cell divides, each new
cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become
another type of cell, like a muscle cell, a red blood cell or a
Studying stem cells allows doctors to analyze how cells transform
into other cells. Many of the most serious illnesses or birth
defects are caused by problems during the transformation process.
Understanding the process better may help doctors discover how to
prevent, treat or cure illnesses and conditions.
"The Southern Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute at SIU
School of Medicine will serve Illinois by exploring stem cells as
potential new treatments and cures, bringing together scientists and
physicians working both in Carbondale and Springfield," said funding
recipient Stuart Adler, M.D., Ph.D., director of SIU's new
institute. "Our effort will include not only research projects in
neurobiology, in regenerating bones and cartilage, and in using cord
blood stem cells, but also will enable new projects and prepare a
new generation of doctors and researchers with the necessary
scientific and ethical training."
"Our preliminary studies have demonstrated that stem cells behave
differently in cancer and spinal cord injury, especially in relation
to apoptosis," said another recipient, Jasti Rao, Ph.D., professor
and head of the Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology at the
University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria. "Further, stem
cells completely regressed pre-established brain tumors when
intravenously injected. This multidisciplinary project will include
a unique collaboration with basic and clinical faculty to study the
role of umbilical cord blood stem cells in various types of cancers
(breast, prostate, lung, leukemia, melanoma, etc.) and in spinal
cord injury -- in both in vitro and in vivo models. We anticipate
that these results will substantially augment our understanding of
how these stem cells chase and attach to these tumor cells and how
these stem cells repair damaged tissue in spinal cord injuries.
Thus, the information should be of help in developing new
therapeutic approaches in these areas."
"We received a total of 24 applications for stem cell research
funding," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, director of the Illinois
Department of Public Health. "Thanks to the governor allocating
another $5 million, we're able to continue supporting the research
being done and award funds to another seven research institutions.
We look forward to the groundbreaking medical advancements for many
debilitating diseases that stem cell research will yield."
[News release from the governor's