A recent gift from Michigan philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman greatly expands private support for stem cell research in the state. The shopping mall magnate has donated $22 million to the University of Michigan Health System for an endowment to fund five stem cell researchers.

A new medical research institute will bear Taubman’s name. The scholars, each of whom will receive a three-year appointment, were selected from scholars in the university’s medical school whose research potentially will lead to the prevention or cure of disease.

The inaugural Taubman Scholars are:

Valerie Castle, M.D., for work on pediatric solid-tumor cancers.

Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., for research on the use of stem cells and other approaches to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

David Pinsky, M.D., for the study of proteins inhibiting the formation of clots inside blood vessels, which could lead to a new class of drugs to prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Yehoash Raphael, Ph.D., for stem-cell development of ear implants for the hearing impaired.

Max Wicha, M.D., for research into stem cells that prompt the growth of cancerous tumors.

The scholars will be eligible to apply for a renewal of their grants, while others may be considered as the endowment grows.

Separately, the University of Michigan established its Exploratory Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in 2003. It has received $3 million from the National Institutes of Health for embryonic stem cell research. Of the center’s original 15 scientists, three have been granted additional funding from the federal agency.[1]

The university also broke ground in 2005 on its Center for Stem Cell Biology, with $12 million from the university budget.


[1] Life Sciences Institute, "Research: Q&A." For more information go to http://lsi.umich.edu/facultyresearch/centers/stemcellbiology/researchqa.