TRENTON – In a move that could position New Jersey as a leader in stem cell research, both houses of the legislature gave final approval to a bill sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) to fund a world-class stem cell institute and several other supporting research facilities throughout the state.
“This is a long-term investment in our natural assets that may one day yield life altering results for New Jersey residents and people the world over,” said Sen. Codey. “New Jersey’s stem cell institute can be the place where hope translates into real therapies. This bill has the potential to secure New Jersey’s place as a leader in the life science industry, ease suffering and save countless lives.”
Bill S-1471 would allocate a total of $270 million for construction of several facilities, including the centerpiece of the legislation – $150 million for construction of the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. Sen. Codey said the institute will be located in New Brunswick, the heart of the state’s world-renowned life sciences industry, and would be jointly operated by Rutgers the State University of New Jersey and the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
The institute would be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to support cutting-edge research and clinical facilities, enabling scientists to translate basic research into real-life therapies and allowing doctors to move easily between laboratory research and treating their patients in the hospital.
The legislation also would allocate: $50 million for a biomedical research facility in Camden, which will be jointly operated by the Rutgers-Camden campus, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Camden, the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey; $50 million for stem cell research facilities at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark; $10 million for blood collection facilities to be used by the Elie Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program in Allendale; and $10 million for cancer research facilities in Belleville that will be utilized by the Garden State Cancer Center.
The Senate approved an earlier version of the bill in May, but was required to re-approve it after the Assembly passed several amendments, including a change in the financing mechanism, which the Treasury Department estimates will save the state upwards of $25 million. Funding for the bill will now be provided by appropriation-backed contract bonds rather than cigarette tax securitization bonds. The bonds will be issued by the NJ Economic Development Authority, which will also oversee construction of the projects. The bill now heads to Governor Corzine’s desk for his highly anticipated signature, which will set the projects in motion.
“We have a lot of advantages in the race for a cure, with our first rate universities and some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and bio-tech companies. This bill will help us capitalize on those advantages and bring real, tangible treatments to those suffering from debilitating and life threatening conditions,” added Sen. Codey.