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A new gift will spur stem cell research

Medicine@Yale, 2018 - June July


Financial support for work on epigenetic foundations of essential cellular activity

Luye Life Sciences Group, a Chinese medical conglomerate, has given the Yale Stem Cell Center (YSCC) $1 million in support of basic stem cell research. The gift “will allow my lab to explore cutting-edge questions that are high-risk and unlikely to be funded by mainstream funding mechanisms,” says Haifan Lin, PhD, YSCC’s director, Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology, and professor of genetics and of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences.

With the gift, Lin and his lab team will continue to investigate a class of genes he discovered called the Argonaute/Piwi gene family, which is linked to human fertility. Lin has researched these genes’ potential role in the division of cancer cells—gaining knowledge that might lead to new anti-cancer treatments.

The boost from Luye Life Sciences will help Lin focus on “epigenetic mechanisms mediated by the Piwi-piRNA pathway in defining a cell’s fate,” he says. “I am very grateful to Luye Group’s leadership for their friendship and trust in my research. I look forward to a wonderful relationship with Luye colleagues in years to come,” Lin says.

The donation comes from Luye’s new Boston area-based research and development center, which opened in July 2017. “As one of the world’s largest stem cell research organizations, YSCC has made significant contributions to advancing the development of stem cell technology,” says Dianbo Liu, executive chair of Luye Life Sciences Group, which is comprised of three divisions that are spread globally: Luye Pharma, Luye Medical, and Luye Investment. “I am glad to see the cooperation between them and Luye Life Sciences Group, and look forward to more progress coming out.”

The proximity of Luye’s Boston office is an added advantage for continued collaboration with Yale, says Liu. “We believe these connections will lead to the launch of innovative drugs as well as technologies with real clinical value, thereby contributing to the health of all humankind.”

“This generous support from Luye Life Sciences will allow Dr. Lin and the Stem Cell Center to continue to work at the edge of what we know about basic stem cell biology. This kind of research remains crucial to the field of stem cells in general and regenerative medicine in particular,” says Robert J. Alpern, MD, dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine.

The timing of Luye’s gift is especially opportune, Lin notes, because a frequent source of funding for the center’s basic research, the state of Connecticut, has more limited ability to provide support this year than in the past because it faces significant budget constraints.

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