Need for a New Building

Based on our scientific and clinical progress in stem cell research over the last several decades, the SoM has planned a significant investment into a new building in support of these efforts. The new Lokey Stem Cell (SIM1) building will be the permanent home for SISCB/RM, located in the heart of the School of Medicine campus. The building will include cancer stem cell biology in a joint initiative between SISCB/RM and the Stanford Cancer Center, and will house all the major components of the stem cell program at Stanford, as described above. Reviewers of our Part I application noted that “The availability of a new facility will not only enhance the already strong interaction among these outstanding visitors, but also will serve as a hub for interactions with the other stem cell-related faculty within the campus.”

SIM1 ensures the success of the SISCB/RM via modern laboratories, expansion of faculty and strategic planning in new directions. The new building, SIM1, is a critical factor in ensuring the success of the SISCB/RM in its mission for several reasons:

  1. Modern laboratories with generous lab support space (1:1 ratio of lab to lab support space) and state-of-the-art shared services (described in more detail in Sections 3G and 4) will enable research staff to enter new realms in stem cell research due to the clustering of colleagues and the availability of new methodologies and equipment.
  2. SIM1 is a major factor in facilitating expansion of the SISCB/RM through recruitment of leaders in the field as well as exciting rising stars to augment and strengthen our program. Indeed, the planned building size (200,000 GSF; 130,000 NASF) will allow the Institute to grow dedicated stem cell research space by more than five times its current size.
  3. We do not intend to move all stem cell research currently undertaken at Stanford into SIM1; indeed, the space required would far exceed the footprint of the building. The occupancy plan leaves about 50% of the building available for growth over the next 5-10 years and allows for strategic planning in stem cell research that encompasses new developments over the next decade. We point out here that the significant addition of approximately 100,000 nasf will allow the SISCB/RM to continue to pursue an aggressive recruiting program, eventually doubling the number of core investigators in the SISCB/RM over the next 5-10 years through the recruitment of new investigators in SIM1 and the extension of opportunities to our collaborators at Stanford community and beyond. The recruitment process has already been underway since the founding of the SISCB/RM with the recruitments of Dr. Renee Reijo Pera (human embryonic stem cells) from the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Mike Clarke (cancer stem cells) from the University of Michigan, Dr. Beverly Mitchell (molecular therapeutics of leukemia and preleukemia stem cells) from the University of North Carolina, Dr. Philip Beachy (cell signaling in stem cells) from Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. Stefan Heller (auditory stem cells) from Harvard University. Over the next 5-10 years, we plan to recruit leading scientists and rising stars in our four targeted areas of research across the spectrum of Elements X, Y, and Z.

SIM1 allocates unprecedented space for collaborative studies. Science often experiences the most explosive advances as a result of chance intellectual collisions that occur between two people during the normal course of the day. SIM1 clusters common spaces, labs, and faculty offices to promote informal discussions and facilitate collaboration among investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and students. Multidisciplinary integration of scientists is a proven method to enhance interactions and integral to our inclusion of diverse researchers in Elements X, Y and Z within SIM1.

Collaborations between basic scientists and clinicians are also critical for taking us from discovery to preclinical testing and on to clinical trial. We have committed an unprecedented 20% of our space (up to 60 collaborative benches) for such translational collaborations. At each collaborative translational or discovery unit, there will be one to three fellows working together on a project overseen by an Institute faculty member and a faculty member whose main laboratory or clinic is outside the building. Visiting scholars and researchers from other institutions will also be encouraged to apply for short-term collaborative space. Collaborative units will be approved upon successful application to the SISCB/RM Steering Committee. The collaborative unit may occupy the space from one to three years and will be reviewed annually. We plan to use these translational collaborative benches to pair basic scientists and clinical researchers strategically to accelerate translational and clinical research in targeted disease areas.  Reviewers of Part I application noted “The proposed translational benches concept is highly innovative and exciting and likely to lead to unanticipated but highly productive learning and new collaborations.”

We note that this novel initiative, already piloted and proven successful at our offsite location, has already attracted funding for programs and for infrastructure. Programmatic support for cancer stem cell research has come from the Ludwig Institute, resulting in the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research at Stanford, and from the Lacob Foundation and the Weston-Havens Foundation, to name a few. Programmatic support for collaborative units in bioengineering and fundamental stem cell biology between UC Berkeley and Stanford will be funded by a joint private donor. Other private donors are supporting the establishment of adjacent translational space for oversight and management of clinical trials, the cancer stem cell program in SIM1, and the overall building and infrastructure support for SIM 1. Importantly, the collaborative benches allow Stanford University to leverage SIM1 to connect with stem cell affiliated faculty across the campus, in the Stanford and Packard Children’s Hospitals, and to expand collaborations with other institutions outside of Stanford.

SIM1 houses unique core services and enabling technologies. There will be many new shared services in SIM1 that will be available to occupants of the building, as well as other stem cell researchers at Stanford University and at collaborating institutions. These shared services are detailed in Sections 3G and 4; here we highlight a few to illustrate their role in fulfilling programmatic goals of the SISCB/RM. First, we are building a 32,500 nasf (51,587 gsf) rodent barrier facility, the first barrier facility for Stanford. This facility is critical for areas such as preclinical assessment of tissue stem cell regenerative capacity in immunodeficient mice that have been uniquely developed at Stanford for studying human stem cells. This facility will open the way for cancer stem cell transplantation research and therapeutic trials that are also heavily dependent on using immunodeficient mice. Another core that is highly critical for stem cell research is the microfluidics core directed by Dr. Steve Quake, which enables researchers to analyze stem cells at low or even single cell levels. This ability is of central importance to stem cell research, as most stem cells are very rare cells. A third innovative core is the imaging suite where cutting edge methods enable even rare cells to be imaged in the body non-invasively over days, weeks, or months in a single animal. Additional advances allow imaging of cells in slices of live tissues where stem cells and their progeny can be examined at the microscopic and sub-cellular levels. A fourth core is a good manufacturing practices (GMP) suite for the safe and microbe-free isolation or establishment of stem cells and stem cell lines which eventually can be used for human clinical trials.

In combination, the resident expertise, collaborative benches, and the cores, allow researchers who may not have a permanent home in SIM1, to fully utilize the services and programs offered by the SISCB/RM and the SIM1 building. These include the 25 researchers at Stanford who have already received CIRM awards and many additional researchers who are developing stem cell and translational programs within their respective disciplines. The many Stanford investigators who are planning New Cell Line and Disease Team initiatives in response to recent RFAs from CIRM will also be able to leverage the expertise and resources resident within SIM1. Similarly, the SISCB/RM will extend these resources to our collaborating institutions.

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