Generous donation from Plimmerton Rotary Club will “supercharge” stem cell research

Club President Graeme Blick, Dr Swee Tan and Dr Tinte Itinteang

In August, GMRI Executive Director Dr Swee Tan and Chief Scientific Officer Dr Tinte Itinteang were guests of the Plimmerton Rotary Club, where they were presented with a significant donation for our cancer stem cell research.

Dr Tan extended his gratitude to Plimmerton Rotary Club President Graeme Blick and colleagues as well as the Rotary Clubs of Eastern Hutt, Johnsonville, Karori, Petone, and Tawa, who also assisted with the fundraising effort.

The donation will sponsor GMRI research technician Erin Paterson to learn new stem cell cultivation techniques at the prestigious Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego.

Dr Tan said that the donation would help “supercharge” the GMRI’s research efforts and allow it to expand its knowledge in this critical area.

The Salk Institute is at the cutting edge of biological studies and is one of the top five biological research centres in the world. Amongst its numerous achievements, the Salk Institute invented the world’s first polio vaccine.

Under the team headed by distinguished researcher Professor Inder Verma, Erin will learn how to culture and maintain disease-specific stem cells from diseased mature cells. The stem cells can then be expanded and grown in culture perpetually.

Dr Tan said that learning these techniques means the GMRI will have access to a continuous supply of cancer stem cells, which will be used for disease modelling as well as for laboratory-based analysis and drug trials.