The Keith Swayne Family Challenge in honor of Judy Swayne
In honor of his wife, Judy Swayne, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease, Keith Swayne and his family have issued a challenge to raise $150,000 for the establishment and expansion of an iPS cell bank at UCI MIND.
The Swayne Family will generously match every dollar that is raised (up to $150,000) for the unique cell bank.
The UCI MIND iPS Cell Bank Initiative
Stem cell therapy receives considerable attention, particularly since UCI MIND investigators have pioneered this avenue of research specifically for Alzheimer’s disease. Stem cells are both controversial and exciting. The controversy is based on when the cells are harvested, with many people ethically objecting to the use of human embryos. UCI MIND investigators do not use embryonic stem cells in their research.
And, it is vital to point out that many stem cells can be directly obtained from adults, thereby bypassing any ethical concerns.
What are iPS Cells
Few discoveries have as great a transformative potential for altering modern medical research as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. These cells are special in that they can enhance our ability to study and understand the impact of disease in human cells in ways not previously possible. These cells are both pluripotent and immortal: capable of giving rise to every cell type in the human body and allowing unprecedented resource sharing among scientists. It is notable that iPS cells can be derived from skin samples. Anyone, even older adults, can easily donate the skin cells needed to develop iPS cells. Additionally, by harvesting iPS cells from the patient, science has minimized the incidence of rejection by the body that can be associated with traditional stem cell research and therapies.
Why the iPS Cell Bank is Necessary
UCI MIND received a grant from the National Institute on Aging, NIA, to establish the first National Alzheimer’s Disease iPS Cell Bank. This will be a valuable resource for the entire Alzheimer’s research community and fits with our pioneering role in stem cell research. The award was granted to UCI MIND despite the current fiscal climate and the federal spending sequester because of the very high score it received and, also due to the value of such research at this time in history.
Because we can predict that federal funding for research will continue to decline as the number of Alzheimer’s patients rapidly increases, it is vital that philanthropic support is crucial for the advancement of Alzheimer’s research in UCI MIND.
A predictable funding source greatly enhances our faculty and graduate students’ groundbreaking and transformative research to make memories last a lifetime. Research requires a commitment of time as well as funding, and we ask that the community help us invest in discovery.
Your support will impact generations to come. Alzheimer’s should not be our reward for living a long life. You can move UCI MIND closer to our vision of bringing an end to the scourge of this disease.