UC San Diego Researcher Receives New Faculty Award for Stem Cell Research from The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

December 13, 2007

By Debra Kain

David Traver, assistant professor of biological sciences at UC-San Diego.

The latest round of grants for stem cell research has been approved for funding by the 29-member Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).  The New Faculty Award to David Traver, assistant professor of biological sciences at the UC-San Diego, will fund his research into how the stem cells of the blood-forming system are generated, providing $2,803,375 over five years.

The ICOC approved 22 New Faculty Awards totaling more than $54 million for up to five years to researchers at 13 academic and non-profit research centers throughout the state.  The New Faculty Awards are intended to encourage and foster the next generation of stem cell scientists in California by funding promising scientists in early stages of their careers as independent investigators and faculty members.  The awards will support research across the full range of stem cell types – human and animal, adult and embryonic.

Traver conducts research on the cell and developmental biology of the rare hematopoietic stem cells that generate and replenish all blood cells throughout the lifetime of vertebrate animals.  His laboratory utilizes both zebrafish and mouse models to gain new insights into stem cell biology. Because the genetic programs controlling stem cell biology are highly conserved from zebrafish to mice to humans, findings in these animal systems will provide a better understanding of how human hematopoietic cells arise during development.

He and his colleagues have demonstrated that blood cell development occurs in several waves during embryogenesis, with only the last wave producing stem cells.  Understanding the genetic cues that instruct stem cell formation is important, since embryonic stem (ES) cells cannot be induced to become hematopoeietic stem cells using current methodologies.  Through a better understanding of how stem cells are born in the embryo, Traver hopes that his findings will ultimately be used to instruct human ES cells to become hematopoietic stem cells for potential therapeutic use.

New Faculty Award grantees were selected from among 59 applications from 29 California institutions.  San Diego area institutions received a total of five New Faculty Awards, with The Scripps Research Institute receiving two and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, two.

To date, the UCSD Stem Cell Research Program and its faculty have received a total of $19,854,158 in funding from CIRM.

Media Contacts:
Debra Kain, 619-543-6163
Kim McDonald, 858-534-7572

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