3 November 2010

New center to conduct stem cell research

Stem Cell Research

Knowledge about stem cells is key in understanding both cancer and diabetes. Danish stem cell research now receives a significant boost with the announcement of the new Danish Stem Cell Center, DanStem at the University of Copenhagen. The center has received a total grant on 415 million kroner. The internationally acknowledged stem cell professor Henrik Semb will become the head of the center, which will open in 2011.

Across the world, large investments in stem cell research are taking place. University of Copenhagen’s new stem cell center, DanStem, with approximately 100 researchers will strengthen Denmark’s and the Øresund region’s international position within stem cell research in areas such as cancer and diabetes, within which University of Copenhagen has already built strong research environments.

”DanStem will contain the full spectrum of the stem cell research – from you discover and uncover the most fundamental molecular mechanism to when the mechanisms are tested in clinical experiments at the hospitals. This is possible because the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with foreign researchers, has already created strong positions of strength within basic research in cancer and diabetes. This illustrates the need to build up the knowledge production of the society around strong basic research,” Rector Ralf Hemmingsen says.

”Research in stem cells is an area with great possibilities. I am therefore pleased that we with a targeted public investment in stem cell research can be a part of bringing Denmark into the first division. This grant means that there will also be a significant strengthening of the research education benefiting both public and the private companies,” Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Charlotte Sahl-Madsen says in a press release.

Research focus for DanStem

The new head of the center, Henrik Semb, who is currently in charge of the Lund Stem Cell Center at the University of Lund, Sweden, sees great potential in the combination of research in cancer and diabetes.

”At the new center, as researchers we will have a unique opportunity to combine the stem cell research within the two areas. We will study the basic mechanisms in stem cells and try to develop stem cells to new insulin producing beta-cells. We will also have a focus on identifying and characterising the particular cancer stem cells that can be the cause of, for example, breast cancer”, the future center leader, professor Henrik Semb, explains.

Grants and collaboration

DanStem will be situated at the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with, amongst others, Copenhagen University Hospital and a number of international universities and companies. The center is divided into two sections. One for basic research, which is supported by a donation on 350 million kroner from the Novo Nordisk fund, and a section for strategic research, which is supported with 65 million kroner from The Strategic Research Council (DSF). The grant from DSF is the result of an effort in stem cell research that a broad majority in the Danish Parliament supports. In their judgment of the applicants for this grant, the council has demanded that the receivers need to be from a consortium that gathers international research expertise from both the public and private institutions.