Science  24 Nov 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5803, pp. 1223

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    STEM CELL ANGELS. Many relatives of diabetes patients support an expansion of stem cell research. Two New York women whose sons have the illness have gone a step further by starting a stem cell foundation.

    Susan Solomon (above, right), a lawyer and management consultant, and Mary Elizabeth Bunzel, a journalist, were asked by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to serve on a task force aimed at getting New York to adopt a stem cell initiative similar to California's Proposition 71. But Solomon concluded that “life is too short” to pursue that obstacle-ridden course. So the two women, tapping an array of contacts in business, medicine, and the arts, set about generating support for a private initiative that heart researcher Kenneth Chien of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston calls an “Olympic Village” for researchers conducting work not eligible for federal funding.

    The New York Stem Cell Foundation has already set up a private lab—location undisclosed—in Manhattan where researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities are currently at work. And last month, the foundation held its first conference—on translational stem cell research—at Rockefeller University. Future plans include the awarding of four 3-year postdoctoral fellowships.


    CANCER NETWORK. While building his corporate empire, U.S. shipping magnate and billionaire Daniel Ludwig relied heavily on getting smart people to work together. Now, 14 years after his death, his foundation is getting cancer researchers from different universities to collaborate more closely with one another.

    Last week, the Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research announced gifts of $20 million each to six institutions around the country: Harvard, Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and the University of Chicago. The money will go toward the establishment of cancer centers, which will also receive a portion of the foundation's real estate stock and $2 million every year for the next 7 years. The foundation is offering additional funding for projects that are hatched by two or more centers, as well as work done in collaboration with the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

    The gift represents a wonderful boost at a time when federal funding for biomedical research is stagnating, says George Demetri, who will head the Ludwig center at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “The money will help us take some risks,” he says. In previous years, the foundation has provided the six institutions with $53 million.


    CHANGE AT THE SALK. Richard Murphy has decided to retire as president and CEO of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California. The 62-year-old cell biologist and his wife will move to the East Coast next summer to be closer to their children and grandchild. No successor has been announced.

    The $160 million that Murphy helped raise during his 6-year tenure enabled the institute to start new research groups and facilities. It now plans further expansion into disciplines such as biophotonics and metabolic diseases.


    THE GEOLOGY GENE. A Ph.D. earned last month from the University of Washington, Seattle, marked more than the launch of Jennifer Kay's career in the earth sciences. It continued a Kay family tradition. Her greatgrandfather, George Frederick Kay, was one of the founders of soil science early in the last century. Grandfather Marshall Kay (below) was the leading authority on geosynclines, the central concept of midcentury continental geology. Father Robert Kay (bottom, with Jennifer) pursues the geochemistry of oceanic volcanic rocks at Cornell University. And the newly minted researcher has been delving into a more watery corner of the earth sciences: the behavior of snow, ice, and clouds.


    Immersion is the key to maintaining a longrunning tradition, says Jennifer's mother, Suzanne Kay, herself a geoscientist at Cornell. That's unlikely to present a challenge: With assorted other relatives in the natural sciences, Suzanne says, Kay family gatherings could double as small scientific conferences.