Waisman researchers win an inaugural UW2020 award

UW 2020

April 13, 2016

An innovative project led by Waisman Center researchers Anita Bhattacharyya and Su-Chun Zhang is one of fourteen research initiatives that have been chosen for the first round of funding by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education for the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative.

Their project, the UW Human Stem Cell Gene Editing Service, will be located in the Waisman Center, and provide gene editing of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) using CRISPR/Cas9 technology to campus researchers.

“The simplicity and efficiency of new CRISPR/Cas9 technology to edit human stem cell genes is revolutionizing the field and producing a significant demand for services to carry out genetic manipulations for researchers,” says Bhattacharyya.

Human pluripotent stem cells have incredible potential in many areas of laboratory and clinical research. For example, The Waisman Center’s Stem Cell Research Program is committed to exploring the therapeutic potential of stem cells with the ultimate goal of developing innovative approaches to treating neurodegenerative diseases and developmental disabilities.

Creating a stem cell gene-editing facility will enhance the ease and speed of many aspects of biological research on campus. The new editing core will provide technical services, including generation of genome-edited human stem cells lines, quality control of genome edited cells, and training for lab personnel.

“The addition of this service on campus will fill an unmet need and have an enormous impact on the many investigators at UW-Madison who use human pluripotent stem cells,” says Bhattacharyya.

Underwritten by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), UW2020 will support selected projects with an average award of about $300,000 over two years. Included in the allocation for most research projects will be support from the UW-Madison Graduate School to cover a graduate student assistantship.

The goal of UW2020 is to stimulate and support highly innovative and groundbreaking research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison over the next five years. This initiative seeks to fund research projects that have the potential to fundamentally transform a field of study as well as projects that require significant development prior to the submission of applications for external funding.

“We have been inspired by the research ideas that have been put forward,” says Marsha Mailick, UW–Madison vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “The goal of UW2020 is to support projects that could ultimately transform a field, solve a long-standing problem, contribute to social policy or launch a key new technology. We think we’re off to a fantastic start.”