Yale fared well in the first group of grants awarded in November by the state of Connecticut from a $100 million fund established last year to promote stem cell research. Yale scientists received $7.7 million of the $19.8 million allocated by the State of Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee for 21 research projects; $12 million went to investigators at the University of Connecticut and $900,000 to scientists at Wesleyan University.

“After careful consideration and review by both an international panel of experts and by this committee, we are confident that Connecticut is investing in stem cell research projects that will yield significant scientific findings in the long term,” said J. Robert Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., committee chair and Department of Public Health Commissioner.

Five other states—California, New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri and Illinois—have decided to fund stem cell research.

Michael P. Snyder, Ph.D., professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, received the largest state grant, $3.8 million to investigate how human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) differentiate into nerve cells.

Haifan Lin, Ph.D., director of the Yale Stem Cell Program (YSCP), received $2.5 million to support a new core facility that will accommodate federal funding restrictions on hESC research. Diane S. Krause, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathology and co-director of the YSCP, received $856,654 to study a leukemia gene using hESCs.

Other Yale researchers who received funding include Yingqun Joan Huang, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences who received $200,000 to study the Fragile X mutation, a leading cause of mental retardation, in early human neural development; Eleni A. Markakis, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, who was awarded $184,407 to direct the isolation of neuronal stem cells from hESCs; and Erik Shapiro, Ph.D., assistant professor of diagnostic radiology, who received $199,975 for magnetic resonance imaging studies of the migration of neural progenitor cells.

“With this first allotment of money, Connecticut becomes a national leader in the area of stem cell research,” said Gov. M. Jodi Rell in a statement announcing the grants. “We have proven ourselves able to provide a place where such research can be done safely, ethically and effectively, in addition to providing investment dollars for the growth of the bioscience industry in Connecticut, and making an investment intended to improve the health of generations to come.”