University of Wisconsin, UCLA, and Univ. of Georgia are the recipients.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences is awarding a total of $27 million over five years to three research groups to conduct studies into stem cells. The results are expected to shed light on stem cells’ capacity renew themselves and to differentiate.

A group of scientists at the University of Georgia reports will study how stem cell turn into specialized cells. They will also seek to identify the genetic and protein modification patterns that accompany this process. Stephen Dalton, Ph.D., professor and Georgia research alliance eminent scholar of molecular biology will lead the research group.

James A. Thomson, Ph.D., a professor of anatomy at the University of Wisconsin will lead a study on how stem cells choose between self-renewal and the initial step toward becoming a specialized cell. They will also investigate how cells that have begun to differentiate can be programmed to return to an embryonic stem cell-like state. In addition, the scientists will work to develop methods for the large-scale production of stem cells.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, led by Jerome A. Zack, a professor of medicine will work on uncovering the changes in gene activity patterns that drive stem cells toward becoming nerve, reproductive, or blood cells. In addition, the group will develop new methods for detecting changes in gene activity and for the long-term growth of stem cells in culture.

All three research programs will offer training for scientists seeking to gain expertise in the specialized techniques needed to work with embryonic stem cells and will serve as a source of reagents, technical support, and methodology development.

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