June 17, 2008
Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) just received a one-of-a-kind funding award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This award establishes CHOC as having the first federally-funded training grant to receive additional federal funding to incorporate new embryonic stem cell derivation technology as part of its training curriculum. This curriculum is a critical adjunct to the NIH's recent stem cell initiative that will fund new research grants that propose to use this new technology.
Dr. Philip H. Schwartz, a senior scientist in the Centers of Neuroscience and Translational Research at the CHOC Research Institute and the principal investigator of the grant, will use this new technology to derive the equivalent of human embryonic stem cells from adult cells, rather than from human embryos. Human embryonic stem cells, also known as pluripotent stem cells, are recognized as a valuable tool for advancing our knowledge of human development and biology, and also for their potential in regenerative medicine.
The use of embryonic stem cells, because they have thus far been derived from human embryos, is controversial. Recent technical innovations, however, have shown that there are now new opportunities for scientific progress with human pluripotent stem cells obtained from sources other than human embryos. Studies using human skin cells have shown that these skin cells can be directly reprogrammed back to their embryonic stem cell state without going through an embryonic state; thus, no embryos are created or destroyed using this new technology.
The new award from the NIH will allow Dr. Schwartz to conduct research on the derivation of these new pluripotent cells from non-embryonic sources and to train investigators, who are currently not working on pluripotent stem cells, encouraging them to enter this new and exciting biomedical research field.
Dr. Schwartz’ stem cell research laboratory at CHOC focuses on the use of stem cells to understand the neurobiological causes of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders such that new treatments may be discovered. Preclinical trials using stem cell therapy in models of certain devastating childhood neurogenetic diseases are also in progress in his laboratory.
About CHOC Children's: Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2013-2014) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital, CHOC Children's is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional healthcare network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence - The CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes. CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence. Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Pediatric Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.
Denise Almazan, Director of Public Relations
phone: (714) 509-8680