News Feature | May 13, 2014

UCLA Receives $4M Grant For Stem Cell And Digestive Diseases Research

By Estel Grace Masangkay


The University of California, Los Angeles announced that it has received two gifts totaling $4 million from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to fund research in stem cell and digestive diseases. UCLA said the grant will also support the recruitment of key faculty at two reputable research centers.

The funding will be used specifically to support basic and translational research as well as recruitment at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA and at the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at UCLA's Division of Digestive Diseases.

Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA supports cutting-edge research by providing “seed funding” for scientists’ research projects. The financial gift will allow the award program, which has yielded a 10-to-1 return on investment in the past, to continue. Grantees were able to secure additional funding from other agencies including the National Institutes of Health with support from the Center.

Research led by Dr. Charalabos Pothoulakis, director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, will focus on the identification of molecular mechanisms behind the development of chronic diseases which currently have no cure. The UCLA researchers have made a unique human fat cell and fat tissue biobank to further study new drugs for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The team has previously worked to show how neuropeptides and hormones play a part in inflammatory bowel diseases, as well as the role of obesity and fat tissue in progression.

Dr. Owen Witte, director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, said that the foundation’s gifts enabled advancement of new therapies on the threshold of clinical trials for the treatment of blindness, cancer, and sickle cell disease. “The Broad Stem Cell Research Center's work, supported by critical philanthropic and other resources, is quickly being translated from basic scientific discoveries into new cellular therapies that will change the practice of medicine and offer future treatment options for diseases thought to be incurable, such as muscular dystrophy, autism and AIDS,” he said.