The institute’s founders and industry experts expect it will bring great benefits for the Birmingham area economy as well as the stem cell research arena. Located in central Alabama, UAB cited the high rate of sickle cell anemia in the African American community as a part of its resolution to establish the Stem Cell Institute. For more than two decades, UAB has been researching sickle cell anemia, one of more than 75 diseases which are currently treated with stem cells from sources such as umbilical cord blood.
The article reports that a key to the institute’s success is educating the public on the difference between using adult stem cells opposed to controversial embryonic cells, said the Biotechnology Association of Alabama’s Executive Director, Kathy Nugent.
According to the article, Nugent also commented that “if UAB can proactively highlight the use of adult stem cells so the public’s initial reaction to stem cell research isn’t negative, the institute could lay the foundation for significant economic development opportunities.”
The new Stem Cell Institute will be headed by Tim Townes, chairman of UAB’s biochemistry and molecular genetics department.