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Group Hustles to Keep Stem Cell Center on Schedule

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Aired 8/11/09

San Diego's Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine is working to meet a Thursday deadline for a major loan on it's research center. The center will be the most visible benefit to San Diego of Prop 71, which funds stem cell research.

— San Diego's Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine is working to meet a Thursday deadline for a major loan on it's research center. The center will be the most visible benefit to San Diego of Prop 71, which funds stem cell research.

Workers build a mock-up of the research center that will house stem cell scientists from four San Diego research institutes Salk, Burnham, Scripps and UCSD. The stem cell center will be across the street from the Salk Institute and just inland from the coastal glider port. Louis Coffman is vice president of the Sanford Consortium.

"Total cost to build is $110 million," he said. "And then for special equipment for some of the core facilities is another $15 million... so $125 million total."

Backers of the building say putting top local stem cell scientists in the same building will create a critical mass of knowledge.

"We like to say the ability to collaborate is inversely proportional to the square of the distance that separates you," said Dr. Edward Holmes, the CEO of the Sanford Consortium. "By having these people all in one building where the post-doctoral fellows, the graduate students, the senior scientists are all drinking from the same coffee machine and exchanging ideas on a daily basis, it really does facilitate the discovery process."

Stem cells can be used to regenerate degenerative tissues, among other uses. San Diegans hope the stem cell research center will generate economic activity as commercial operations spin off of it. Holmes says he expects shovels to go in the ground next month, and the center to be finished in 2011.

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