News Release

UM’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute Awarded $10 Million Grant from Starr Foundation

Grant to Support ISCI’s Mission to Translate Stem Cell Discoveries Into Pipeline of Therapies for Debilitating Conditions

MIAMI, May 3, 2012 — The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI) today announced that it received a $10 million grant from The Starr Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the United States. The grant will support ISCI in broadening its preclinical and clinical research on stem cells, and help accelerate its pipeline of translational research and programs for a wide range of debilitating conditions including cardiac disease, cancer, wound healing, stroke, glaucoma and chronic kidney and gastrointestinal diseases.

"This is a momentous and transformative gift for the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute," said Joshua M. Hare, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.H.A., Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and director of ISCI. "We are so gratified that the level of science being conducted here was recognized by this very generous grant from The Starr Foundation. With this award, we join the ranks of the other major top-tier universities funded by The Starr Foundation. This support, along with our growing NIH funding, technology transfer, and other philanthropic efforts guarantees the stability of ISCI through the end of the decade, and will allow us to continue to push the boundaries of regenerative medicine with the goal of improving human health."

"Stem cells and regenerative medicine are poised to transform the way we practice medicine, cure disease and treat injuries. To realize this potential, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is performing world-leading research at ISCI," said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Miami Health System. "We are extremely proud of this recognition by The Starr Foundation that ISCI, and the Miller School of Medicine, are leading the way for stem cell and regenerative medicine breakthroughs."

Donna E. Shalala, President of the University of Miami, said the grant from the foundation will have "long-reaching implications for future medicine. The team at ISCI is making new discoveries on a number of fronts and this substantial support from The Starr Foundation propels that work forward, both in the laboratory and in clinical trials."

The Starr Foundation has long been a champion of stem cell research and its potential to dramatically change the way physicians treat and cure disease. Similarly, ISCI was founded in 2008 with the goal to discover and advance cell-based therapies for devastating and untreatable diseases and help unlock the power of regenerative medicine. ISCI’s groundbreaking cardiac clinical trials, led by Dr. Hare, account for the largest cohort of patients injected with stem cells in the United States. These trials have demonstrated that stem cells injected into hearts following a heart attack actually repair damage and improve organ function, and compelling study results have been published in Circulation Research, where the article was one of the top 10 read publications of 2011.

"The Starr Foundation has had long ties to the University of Miami and our total grants, including the endowed C. V. Starr Scholarship Fund, now total more than $15.5 million," said Maurice R. Greenberg, chairman of The Starr Foundation. "We learned about some of the interesting stem cell research at Miami, specifically efforts to rebuild damaged hearts, and we wanted to help further that research as it moved into clinical applications."

ISCI is currently leading 13 clinical trials evaluating the use of stem cells in patients with conditions including congestive heart failure, skin wounds, burns, pulmonary fibrosis and stroke. The POSEIDON clinical trial, an ongoing Phase 1/2 study led by Dr. Hare, is designed to compare the effects of autologous (from the patient) mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with allogeneic (from an unrelated donor) MSCs in patients with heart failure. This NIH-sponsored study is the first clinical trial to compare autologous to allogeneic stem cells and is expected to provide valuable insights and data when it is completed later this year.

"We try to stay current with developments at our long-time grantees and sometimes this leads to additional grants based on compelling projects," said Florence A. Davis, president of The Starr Foundation. “The team at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute is energetic and dedicated—it was a good fit for our medical research grant making."

About The Starr Foundation

Established in 1955 by insurance entrepreneur Cornelius Vander Starr, The Starr Foundation awards grants for philanthropic projects in areas such as education, health care, human needs, public policy, and cultural arts. In the area of education, which is traditionally one of the foundation’s highest priorities, the foundation provides need-based financial aid to students by endowing C.V. Starr Scholarship Funds at more than 140 secondary schools, colleges, and universities, including the University of Miami. The foundation's chairman of the board, Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg, attended the University of Miami in the late 1940s, and his wife, Corinne, is an alumna.

About the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute

The Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI), founded in 2008 at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is on the cutting edge of translating stem cell therapies. ISCI’s goal is to spearhead cell based therapies for a host of untreatable diseases. Its focus includes research in basic cell biology, hematology, oncology, cardiology, dermatology, diabetes and endocrinology, neurology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, and ethics and science policy. For more information, visit

About the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

The University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine was founded in 1952 as the first medical school in Florida and is acclaimed nationally and internationally for research, patient care, education and community service in the United States, South America and the Caribbean. Serving more than five million people as the only academic medical center in South Florida, the Miller School of Medicine and UHealth-University of Miami Health System have earned international acclaim for patient care and research innovations. The Miller School ranks in the top third among U.S. medical schools in terms of research funding awarded. For more information, visit

Lisa Worley
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Office: 305-243-5184
Cell: 305-458-9654