Symbolic and embryonic NIH grant to Advanced Cell and Burnham Institue

Press release: Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. a leader biotech company in human embryonic stem (ES) cell technology concerning regenerative medicine, has been awarded a research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the amount of $204,439 in conjunction with a research project currently underway with one of its academic partners, The Burnham Institute of Medical Research (Burnham Institute).

Grant title: “Directed Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells using Phage Displayed Ligands”. From the press release: The project unites Advanced Cell’s expertise in embryonic stem cell biology, phage display, phage targeting technology and gene discovery, with Burnham Institute’s expertise in developmental biology, cardiac biology, and vascular biology, among others. Phage display is a powerful tool that extends the range of modern combinatorial screening techniques, allowing the discovery and characterisation of proteins that interact with a desired target. Briefly: the aim of the project is “to use phage display as a tool to discover novel molecules for directing stem cells to form useful cell types and tissues”.

I have serious doubts on what can achieve with 200 thousand bucks only in this area of research (think about the million dollar annual budget of stem cell labs, the $3 billion in California, and the over $27 billion annual investment budget of NIH) but I am not reluctant to admit the symbolical and political gesture behind this NIH grant.