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October 9, 2003

UW and Hutch to set up stem cell center

The UW and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will establish one of three federally funded Exploratory Centers for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.

The centers will acquire, characterize, and in some cases, distribute, National Institutes of Health-approved human embryonic stem cell lines.

Federally funded research on embryonic stem cells is limited to existing cell lines, which are available from only a few private companies and academic institutions. The centers will improve scientists’ access to these costly cell lines, and train them in methods for their use.

In Seattle, research staff at a central laboratory, directed by Dr. Carol Ware, research assistant professor of comparative medicine, will become expert in cultivating the cells.

Dr. Tony Blau, associate professor of medicine, Division of Hematology, is the principal investigator for the $2.3 million grant, for three years, from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The grant includes three pilot projects:



  • Blau and Dr. Randall Moon, professor of pharmacology, will study cell line self- renewal.

  • Dr. David Russell, associate professor of medicine, Division of Hematology, will develop genetic techniques.

  • Dr. Charles Murry, associate professor of pathology, and Dr. Thomas Reh, professor of biological structure, will work on differentiating embryonic cells into cardiomyocytes or retinal cells.