HSCI Seed Grants provide critical early funding

In June, HSCI awarded seed grants totaling $1.95 million to investigators from Harvard institutions conducting projects in diverse areas of stem cell research.

Established in 2005, HSCI’s Seed Grant Program provides critical early funding for projects in areas of stem cell research that are aligned with HSCI’s mission. Highest priority is given to projects that might be difficult to fund from other sources, either because they are considered “high risk/high reward” or because the research is ineligible for federal funding under the current federal restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research. These grants are also intended to support careers of junior faculty with an eye to encouraging collaborative research.

This year’s grants were awarded to 13 investigators from seven institutions, selected from a pool of approximately 70 applicants. The focus of their research ranges from stem cell-based therapy for human brain tumors to the biology of blood-forming stem cells. In 2005, HSCI supported the work of a dozen researchers in nine different areas of stem cell research, with grants totaling $1.8 million.

“Our research, while very promising, was at too early a stage to qualify for federal funding, so HSCI’s financial support has been essential,” says 2006 grant recipient Hanno Hock, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Hock is seeking one of the “holy grails” of stem cell research: the ability to expand hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells in culture. This work could benefit patients with cancers of the blood who require a potentially lifesaving stem cell transplant (also called a bone marrow transplant). Hock and his team have identified molecules that play a key role in regulating the proliferation and survival of hematopoietic stems cells which, if modified, could lead to a way to create an abundant new source of these cells. 

2006 HSCI Seed Grant Recipients

Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Raymond Anchan, MD, PhD
Yaming Wang, MD

CBR Institute for Biomedical Research
Anjana Rao, PhD

Children’s Hospital Boston
Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD
David Breault, MD, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD
Rona Carroll, PhD
Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD
Hanno Hock, MD, PhD
Charles Lin, PhD
Jing-Wei Xiong, PhD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Rosalind Segal, MD, PhD

Joslin Diabetes Center
Keith Blackwell, MD, PhD