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UC Merced to Observe Stem Cell Awareness Day on Wednesday, Sept. 23

September 23, 2009

MERCED, CA — The University of California, Merced, will join the rest of the world in observing Stem Cell Awareness Day on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Research institutions, patient groups and educators from across the globe have planned activities to mark the day. The goal of Stem Cell Awareness Day is to foster greater understanding about stem cell research and its potential to treat disease and injury.

At UC Merced, the newest campus of the prestigious University of California system, members of the Stem Cell Consortium will observe the day by highlighting some of the interdisciplinary research being done here and give updates on the program and construction of the planned Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. in Room 105 of the Classroom and Office Building at UC Merced, 5200 N. Lake Road. The event is open to the public. Admission is free.

UC Merced’s Stem Cell Consortium is a research group of faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who are investigating the underpinnings of stem cell fate decisions, tissue development and organization.

“This work is the foundation for groundbreaking treatments and cures for debilitating conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and spinal cord injuries,” said professor Maria Pallavicini, dean of the School of Natural Sciences.

During Wednesday’s event, professors Marcos García-Ojeda, Néstor Oviedo and Pallavicini will provide a short primer on stem cells — what they are and how they work. They will also describe how organisms such as worms can lend insight into stem cell biology and discuss and new approaches of understanding how stem cells make decisions.

Speakers will also give an update on the planned Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry, funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). CIRM is a state agency established in 2004 through the passage of Proposition 71. CIRM provides funding for stem cell research and facilities to California universities and research institutions.

As of August 2009, UC Merced has received $8.49 million from CIRM, including $4.36 million to build the instrumentation foundry in the campus’ Science and Engineering Building. The unique facility will enable investigators at UC Merced and elsewhere in California to apply sophisticated microfabrication and nanofabrication technologies to understand stem cells fate decisions. It will be the only facility of its kind in the Central Valley.

Several UC Merced researchers from the schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering have received funds from CIRM for stem cell research including professors García-Ojeda, Kara McCloskey, Jennifer Manilay, Michael Cleary and Michael Colvin. UC Merced graduate students and post-doctoral fellows have received CIRM training scholarships through a UC Davis-UC Merced training grant partnership.

For more information on Stem Cell Awareness Day and related research at UC Merced: