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USC Gets Cash for Stem Cell Center

Times Staff Writer

USC has received a $25-million gift from philanthropist Eli Broad’s foundation to construct a stem cell research facility on the medical school campus in East Los Angeles, school officials said Thursday.

The gift is part of his larger effort to bring new biomedical jobs to L.A., Broad said in an interview Thursday.

Groundbreaking for the Broad Institute for Integrative Biology and Stem Cell Research at USC’s Keck School of Medicine is scheduled to begin this fall. It will house the university’s new Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, USC officials said.

California is destined to be a national leader in stem cell research thanks to a state funding initiative approved in 2004, Broad said. “We wanted to make sure that research started out, and was conducted, in Los Angeles,” he said.

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The institute will be the cornerstone of a biomedical research park in the city, Broad added, and “will draw great scientists from throughout the world.”

The university has already selected a director for the stem cell research center: Martin F. Pera, a prominent American researcher who has been working in a laboratory in Australia.

Pera will be joined by a group of stem cell researchers from USC, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Caltech, USC officials said.

Other researchers specializing in diabetes, transplant biology, cardiovascular disease and applied medicine will also work at the center.

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USC officials released an artist’s drawing of the planned 215,000-square-foot facility, to be located on what is now a parking lot at the intersection of San Pablo and Alcazar streets on the medical campus east of the Golden State Freeway and north of the San Bernardino Freeway. It depicts a multistory building constructed around a cylindrical central atrium and fronted by terraced gardens.

Voters in 2004 passed Proposition 71, which provided public funding for stem cell research in the state, but the measure has been held up by litigation questioning its constitutionality. Private donors have attempted to jump-start stem cell research efforts in the meantime.

USC officials said the planned Broad Institute and related facilities could create 8,500 local jobs.

“The future of the city’s economy will be based on what we do in biomedicine,” Broad said.

The Broad Foundation -- founded by Broad, a billionaire philanthropist -- funds urban public education initiatives and medical research involving the human genome and stem cells.


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