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$25 million Broad Foundation gift creates stem cell institute at USC

03/03/06
Broad Institute for Integrative Biology and Stem Cell Research to spur pioneering studies
By Lori Oliwenstein
The University of Southern California has received $25 million from The Broad Foundation to create the Broad Institute for Integrative Biology and Stem Cell Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. The 215,000-square-foot facility, when completed, will be the largest stem cell research center in California.

The new Broad Institute will be the pivotal hub for integrative biomedical research on USC’s Health Sciences Campus, bringing together researchers, biologists and equipment in one place as they investigate the causes and treatments of a wide spectrum of diseases.

“This will hopefully be the anchor of a new biomedical corridor in the region, where the nation’s most cutting-edge research is conducted by some of the brightest minds in science,” said Eli Broad, founder of The Broad Foundation, in announcing the gift at a ceremony on Feb. 23.

He noted that he and wife Edythe Broad have a philosophy of “taking risks in philanthropy, but in areas we believe have enormous potential.” That is why, he added, “that it’s only fitting that the Broad Institute is being created here in Los Angeles, to realize the full potential of this area of research.”

USC President Steven B. Sample spoke of Broads’ “legacy of generosity.” Their gift, he said, “will enhance the quality of life not only for the people of Southern California, but for people around the world.”

Added Sample: “For many years the Broads have been the driving force behind programs that promote health and well-being, enhance cultural and educational opportunities, and support urban and economic revitalization. We are very fortunate that Edythe and Eli have the vision to see what needs to be done, the generosity to make it possible, and the will to make it a reality.

“Their contribution is a strong vote of confidence in the quality of the research programs at USC, and ensures that Southern California will remain at the world’s epicenter for biomedical technology and the life sciences.”

The Broad Institute will include the newly created Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, a multidisciplinary initiative comprised of researchers from the USC Health Sciences and University Park campuses as well as from Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. The scientific teams will pursue basic research in regenerative medicine and will work with teams from the California Institute of Technology and other regional scientific institutions to develop novel platforms in imaging, bioengineering and nanotechnology for application to stem cell research. The stem cell scientists at the Broad Institute and their associated researchers will also work to translate this basic research into useable new therapies for a wide variety of diseases and conditions.

The Broad Institute will reach beyond the realm of stem cell biology as well. In addition to the 18 new investigators from the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, the 215,000-square-foot structure will house another 18 prominent basic and clinical investigators engaged in interdisciplinary research in transplant biology, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes and other metabolic diseases. About 16 computational or clinical scientists, whose work is critical to a successful translational research program, will also be located in the Broad Institute. The institute will have a state-of-the-art imaging facility and a biotechnology transfer center that is expected to become an essential resource for researchers and for the entire Keck School of Medicine community.

“The Broad Institute for Integrative Biology and Stem Cell Research is important to the Keck School, particularly at this time, as the National Institutes of Health launches an initiative to support clinical and translational research,” said Keck School of Medicine Dean Brian E. Henderson. “Our view now is that, in order to solve complex biological problems, scientists must move beyond the confines of their own disciplines and explore new organizational models for team science.

“This institute represents a major step forward in our research on diabetes and heart disease in addition to housing our growing stem cell and regenerative medicine program.”

The Broad Foundation was founded by Eli and Edythe L. Broad as a Los Angeles–based venture philanthropy focused on entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Broads have also founded the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass.—a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research—to use the power of genomics to understand human disease.

The Broad Foundation Web site can be found at www.broadfoundation.org.