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Stanford gets $33 million for stem cell research

February 28, 2007|Mary Engel | Times Staff Writer

Stanford University will build a center for stem cell research in the heart of its campus with the help of a $33-million gift announced Tuesday.

The donation from Lorry I. Lokey, the founder of Business Wire and a 1949 Stanford graduate, came a day after a California appeals court upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 71, a $3-billion bond measure for stem cell research.

If the decision withstands a Supreme Court appeal, California by next year could be spending up to $300 million annually on research that scientists believe could yield therapies for Parkinson's disease, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other ailments.

Like proponents of Proposition 71, Lokey became interested in supporting the scientific endeavor after President Bush in 2001 restricted funding for research using human embryonic stem cells, citing moral concerns.

"The important thing to me is that stem cells might not only extend life but also improve the quality of life, as so many people suffer in their later years," Lokey, 79, said.

Stanford's stem cell researchers are scattered across the university, with some in a renovated building on the edge of the Palo Alto-area campus. Centralizing the research will allow more interaction among scientists, said Dr. Irving Weissman, director of Stanford's stem cell program.

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mary.engel@latimes.com

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