TRENTON – New Jersey’s stem cell agenda moved forward with resounding approval today as the full Senate voted 29 to 10 to approve S-1471, a bill sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, which would allocate funding to build a world-class stem cell institute. The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, allocates $250 million in unused bond capacity for construction of a $150 million stem cell institute in New Brunswick, a $50 million joint biomedical research facility in Camden, and a $50 million adult stem cell research facility at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark.
“New Jersey’s stem cell institute can be the place where hope translates into real therapies,” said Sen. Codey. “New Jersey has 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 has the potential to secure New Jersey’s place as a leader in the life science industry, ease suffering and save countless lives. But, right now there are only a handful of first-rate stem cell scientists and they are waiting on the edge of their seat to see who makes the first serious investment. Every day we wait potentially puts us a day behind.”
Sen. Codey said, the $150 million Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey would be located in 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 would also include clinical facilities, enabling scientists to translate basic research into real-life therapies. Researchers would be able to move easily between laboratory research and treating their patients in the hospital. The institute would also benefit New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and biotech industry, which would ultimately bring these new therapies to the market.
A $50 million allocation in the bill would fund the Systems Biology Institute, which would potentially bring together the resources of the Rutgers-Camden campus, UMDNJ, the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Cooper University Hospital. The institute would be sited with the new planned UMDNJ academic building in Camden and would support a wide-range of biomedical activities, including doctoral research. An additional $50 million would fund an adult stem cell research facility at NJIT in Newark.
Sen. Codey stressed the urgency of this legislation, noting that New Jersey’s stem cell efforts and bio-tech industry are threatened by growing competition from places like Harvard University, California, neighboring Maryland, and abroad from countries like China, Japan and England.
Funding for the projects would not impact the state’s operating budget, but instead come from existing unused bond capacity resulting from cigarette tax revenues. The bonds would be issued by the NJ Economic Development Authority, which will also oversee construction of the projects. Sen. Codey originally proposed the investment in his 2005 State of the State Address as Governor.