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Gift launches fund to support stem cell research at University of Michigan


Gift from Robert and Marge Alpern will aid U-M scientists’ efforts in all types of stem cell research

Ann Arbor, MI – The University of Michigan Medical School and the Center for Stem Cell Biology have received a significant gift to fund broader opportunities for stem cell research at U-M. The Robert and Marge Alpern Stem Cell Research Fund is designed to encourage both embryonic and tissue-specific (adult) stem cell research by offering researchers university-wide an additional resource for studies in this fast-growing field.
The Alpern’s

The fund’s creators, Robert and Marge Alpern of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., say they want the fund to help U-M retain and build upon its talented cadre of stem cell scientists and attract others to the field of stem cell research, which holds promise for treatments for many conditions and diseases.

The Alperns say their goal is for U-M to support the most promising stem cell research with the greatest potential for increasing an understanding of fundamental stem cell biology as well as the potential for treating human disease. They view the use of stem cells as one of the most important advances in the history of medicine.

“Because we live in a democratic country with a long and proud history of openness and freedom, we wish to personally support the important research on stem cells in the face of the political restrictions placed on it by both the federal and state governments,” they say.

The Alperns and U-M officials envision the fund as a catalyst to motivate other donors to help U-M continue to build on its strong record in stem cell research. Anyone wishing to support stem cell research can contribute to the fund.

“The fund established by the Alperns’ generous gift will allow U-M scientists to continue to build on their significant research accomplishments and explore new questions in the rapidly advancing field of stem cell research,” says James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., dean of the U-M Medical School.

“We are extremely grateful to Bob and Marge for both their amazing vision and incredibly generous support in providing this seminal gift specifically for stem cell research,” says James Douglas Engel, Ph.D., G. Carl Huber Professor of Developmental Biology at the U-M Medical School and chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. The department includes the Michigan Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which receives federal funds for research using federally approved embryonic stem cell lines.

“This gift that creates the Alpern Fund provides a beacon of hope for millions of individuals who suffer from devastating diseases that might be eliminated by novel treatments that we believe will emerge from stem cell research,” Engel says.

“This gift is all the more impressive because it is not restricted by current politics: Bob and Marge wish for the gift to be used to promote the very best stem cell research we can identify, regardless of whether it is on embryonic or adult stem cells.“

For the new fund, a stem cell research committee will review projects proposed by U-M researchers each year and select only the most meritorious for funding. Alan Saltiel, Ph.D., director of the U-M Life Sciences Institute, which houses the Center for Stem Cell Biology, serves as the committee’s chair, with Engel and Sean Morrison, Ph.D., director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology, serving as committee members.

The Alperns have previously made other large gifts to the University for complementary and integrative medicine and Matthaei Botanical Gardens. They are both 1942 graduates of U-M’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts. The gift is part of U-M’s overall fundraising effort, the Michigan Difference Campaign.

Those who want to learn more about making a gift to the fund can visit and select “Alpern Stem Cell Research Fund,” or contact Anne Cooper, U-M Medical School Development, 301 E. Liberty St. Suite 400, Ann Arbor, MI 48104,, 734-998 7707.

Written by: Anne Rueter
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