After a historic three-way deal signed in Amsterdam this week, a ground-breaking Center for Stem Cell Research will be set up in Moscow in 2014 with collaboration between major Dutch and Russian universities.
The University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands, the Russian Vavilov Institute of General Genetics and Moscow’s Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) have set up the first Center for Research, Education and Innovation (CREI) to position both countries as leaders in stem cell technology.
There will be strong financial support for the CREI from the Russian government to commercialise the considerable opportunities from biomedical research. Fifteen of these five-year long research projects will be founded by 2020 and possess a cumulative budget of $675 million.
The US will also participate through a sub-contract to the Whitehead Institute in Groningen in a global effort to accelerate the commercialisation of stem cell science, which is one of the fastest developing and promising fields in biomedicine.
The 2012 Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent (stem cells) by scientists in Japan and the UK ,and Skoltech has engaged one of the world’s leading experts in cancer and molecular genetics to oversee the project.
“At Skoltech we are building a university from the ground up in a unique way, dedicated to translating research to real impact in the commercial world. We have convinced a world leader in the field to move to Moscow to start the Center and we are really excited to have attracted him,” said Edward Crawley, President of Skoltech.
The Center will also bring to Moscow leading international researchers in the field to conduct courses and training for industry, faculty and researchers. Previously, these individuals would have had no other recourse but to search for expertise outside of the country.
The Skoltech Center for Stem Cell Research will focus on using stem cells to address liver diseases, cancer, aging and current incurable diseases by creating transplantable stem cells from induced pluripotent cells and developing specific cellular systems. The Center will also work with many of the 800 start-up companies that are based at the Skolkovo Park in Moscow to create marketable products.
Currently there is not a single Russian university in the world’s Top 200 universities, and Skoltech is a major project to address this. The creation of the Skolkovo campus at the Skolkovo Park in a partnership with Boston’s MIT, and international deals of this nature are expected to push Russia into this elite within five years.
The academic tie-up with the Netherlands follows recent Russian commercial partnerships with corporations such as Cisco, IBM, Siemens and Rosneft that have all invested in Skolkovo. These blue-chip companies were recently joined at the end of 2012 by Samsung who signed an agreement to set up a R&D centre in Moscow. (The Telegraph)