UC Merced unveiled stem cell research facility

FRESNO, Calif.

The intricate equipment inside this room will be used by researchers trying to cure devastating diseases like alzheimers, parkinsons, and cancer.

Professor Jennifer Manilay said, "I've been trained in bone marrow transplantation which is used for leukemia."

Professor Manilay is one of the U.C. Merced faculty members excited about this new stem cell instrumentation foundry. The state of the art lab allows researchers to study individual stem cells in a clean, controlled environment. Manilay says it could help her discover ways to treat leukemia patients who can't find bone marrow donors, even by using their own skin cells. "What this facility allows us to do is answer the questions we want to answer, but it gives more detail and uses a new technology that's up and coming for stem cell research."

Staff members say this facility is important not only for research, but also recruiting.

U.C Merced Technical Allocation Manager, Steve Rabedeaux said, "It's an excellent recruiting tool, absolutely. When our deans are going off and looking for new faculty, this facility can absolutely be used as leverage or enticement."

Steve Rabedeaux says this is the only lab of its kind in the Central Valley. It was built using a more than $4 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Administrators believe it's a step toward developing a biotech industry in this area, which would boost the economy. And students say it gives them an opportunity to be at the cutting edge of their field.

Sean Lambert-Diaz said, "It's amazing. It's the wave of the future, and everything I'm studying right now is exactly what they're going to be working on inside there."

U.C. Merced faculty members say much of the work that will be done in the lab does not deal with embryonic stem cells, which are the most controversial.

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