Stem Cell News
November 2, 2007 1:46pm CST
NJ leaders break ground on stem cell research facility by Kitta MacPherson Tuesday October 23, 2007, 7:28 PM "New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, joined by relatives of the late "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve, state legislators, scientists, patient activists and university leaders, today broke ground at the site of the future, multi-million-dollar stem cell research center at a dirt lot in New Brunswick. The state Economic Development Authority approved $9.1 million in June for design and pre-development costs of the facility, to be called The Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey -Christopher Reeve Pavilion, a $150 million research institute expected to take about three years to build. The center will occupy five floors of a 16-story University Research Tower to be built by Rutgers University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in the city's downtown on Little Albany Street. The institute will also run satellite facilities in four other locations including Newark and Camden. Corzine, a staunch supporter of embryonic stem cell research, described his excitement at the prospect of the state hosting such an advanced scientific facility with such promise for curing and treating some of mankind's most hopeless maladies. "This may be one of the most exciting moments since I've been Governor," he said. "This is about humanity writ large." He described Reeve, a Princeton native who became one of the country's most visible and memorable stem cell activists after an accident left him paralyzed, as an "heroic New Jerseyan. He was truly a Superman." In what was perhaps the event's emotional high point, Benjamin Reeve, a Massachusetts attorney and younger brother of the late star who bears a striking likeness to him, took the microphone. He spoke of his brother's struggle with his disability and his wish that he could switch places with opponents of stem cell research, if only for a moment, so they could see things from his perspective. And he spoke of how moved he was that the people of New Jersey wanted to fulfill his brother's dream by building a place that could give rise to cures for maladies like spinal cord injuries. "We appreciate that you 'get it," Reeve said. And, referring to the slogan of both his family and the Summit-based Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is "Move Forward," he added: "This is exactly what we mean. This is forward." Many speakers urged passage of the $450 million bond referendum up for public vote Nov. 6. The money would fund the salaries of the scientists that will conduct the pathbreaking work."