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Stem Cell Research Facility Planned for San Diego

A new nonprofit institution plans to build a $115 million stem cell research facility in San Diego that would open by 2010.

Although funding still is being lined up, the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine proposes constructing a 23,740-square-foot building housing laboratories and support space.

The facility would be located on 7-plus acres owned by the University of California, San Diego, in the Torrey Pines area biotechnology cluster.

UC San Diego is one of four members of the consortium. The others are the Burnham Institute, Salk Institute and Scripps Research Institute.

The state is expected to provide a large portion of the facility's funding. Californians in 2004 approved a measure creating a $3 billion stem cell research agency. It is scheduled to distribute $262 million in grants for the construction of large research facilities.

A panel for the state agency has determined the San Diego consortium is eligible for $43 million. Grant totals are set to be finalized next month.

A condition to receive the state funds is that the building be completed by 2010.

Consortium officials estimate they would need to raise at least an additional $72 million to complete center funding. They said an out-of-state donor whom they decline to name has agreed to contribute $30 million, with $10 million paid upfront.

Hopes are high for the alliance, which brings together San Diego's four largest research institutes.

"I believe strongly that this consortium will, in time, lead to significant scientific advances and life-saving results," said Marye Anne Fox, chancellor of UC San Diego.

Human embryonic stem cells are created in the first days after conception and give rise to all organs and specialized tissues in the body. Scientists hope to use stem cells to replace diseased tissue, but many social conservatives oppose the work because human embryos are destroyed during research

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