The independent news organization of Duke University

$10.2M grant to boost stem cell research

The Robertson Foundation has donated $10.2 million to Duke University to advance stem cell research, officials announced Thursday.

The money will go toward creating a Translational Cell Therapy Center, which will include clinical cell processing labs with high-tech machines for clinical cell therapy, said Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, division chief of Duke’s Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation program and director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank. The donation was confirmed several weeks ago.

“We are very excited about [the donation] because it will enable Duke to start research in an area that will be very important in regenerative medicine,” Kurtzberg said.

Stem cells can grow and develop into different specialized cells throughout the body and can be used for transplants in other patients with blood disorders and diseases, such as diabetes.

The TCTC would enable the University to enhance and expand its cell therapy research and treatment programs for patients with cancer, cerebral palsy and stroke and brain injuries, Dr. Victor Dzau, chancellor for health affairs and chief executive officer of Duke University Health System, said in a statement Thursday. He added that Kurtzberg and her research team have actively been working with stem cells and their medicinal value for a long time.

“Dr. Kurtzberg’s research reflects the kind of transformational science that has the potential to change the lives of thousands of people throughout the country and around the world,” Julian Robertson, founder of the Robertson Foundation, said in a statement Thursday.

Part of the money will go toward the construction of a lab specifically for storing and creating therapeutic stem cells and will be built following guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a Duke Medicine news release.

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