As Yale Medicine was in production, Yale scientists received $7 million in grants from the State of Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee in November to study aspects of stem cell biology. The grants were the first awarded from the $100 million fund established by the state last year to promote stem cell research outside the restrictions of federal funding. The state also awarded grants totaling $12 million to investigators at the University of Connecticut and $900,000 to scientists at Wesleyan University. The total allocated for 21 research projects was $19.78 million. A state advisory panel awarded the grants after reviewing 70 applications. (See related story.)

The lion’s share of the Yale funding went to Michael P. Snyder, Ph.D., professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, to investigate the neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. He received $3.8 million.

Haifan Lin, Ph.D., director of the Yale Stem Cell Program, received $2.5 million to support a human embryonic stem cell core facility. The University of Connecticut received a similar amount for its core facilities as well. Diane S. Krause, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathology and co-director of Yale’s stem cell program, received $856,653 to study a leukemia gene using human embryonic stem cells.

Yingqun Joan Huang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, received $200,000 to study the Fragile X mental retardation protein in early human neural development. Eleni A. Markakis, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, received $184,407 to direct the isolation of neuronal stem cells from human embryonic stem cell lines. And Erik Shapiro, Ph.D., assistant professor of diagnostic radiology, received $199,975 for using magnetic resonance imaging to study the directed migration of endogenous 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.”

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

“After careful consideration and review by both an international panel of experts and 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., chair of the state’s Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee and Commissioner of Public Health.