PHILADELPHIA – University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers, along with colleagues at the University of Washington and the University of Toronto, have received $8 million for stem-cell research. The Penn group is one of nine research hubs awarded $170 million over the next seven years by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to develop the high-potential field of stem- and progenitor-cell tools and therapies.

The awards create the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium, which will bring together researchers from the heart, lung, blood, and technology research fields. The consortium assembles multidisciplinary teams of principal investigators and an administrative coordinating center to focus on progenitor cell biology.

While a stem cell can renew itself indefinitely or differentiate, a progenitor cell can only divide a limited number of times and is often more limited than a stem cell in the kinds of cells it can become. Given the potential of these cells for clinical applications, the goals of the consortium are to identify and characterize progenitor cell lines, direct the differentiation of stem and progenitor cells to desired cell fates, and develop new clinical strategies to address the unique challenges presented by the transplantation of these cells.

The grant’s principal investigator Edward Morrisey, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology and Scientific Director of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and colleagues will determine how certain signaling pathways — ordered sequences of biochemical reactions inside cells — affect cardiac and blood-forming cell development and cardiac regeneration and repair. The team will also study whether these pathways, namely Wnt and Notch, may be harnessed for therapeutic applications.

For more information on the NHLBI awards go to:

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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