stem-cell.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said today’s opening of a stem cell research building at the University of California, San Francisco was a significant step toward making the city the world leader in regenerative science.

“Simply seven years ago, we only had two biotech and life science companies in this city,” Lee said.

“Today, we have more than 74 of those companies located here,” he said to a round of applause.

The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine building is the headquarters for UCSF’s regeneration and stem cell research program, one of the largest of its kind in the U.S.

The new building, which is more than 46,000 square feet, is at UCSF’s Parnassus campus at 513 Parnassus Ave.

University of California President Mark Yudof said the opening of the building today represents a monument to some 7 million voters who supported Proposition 71, which passed in 2004.

The proposition made stem cell research supported by the state. Many speakers echoed Yudof’s words about how important its passage meant to the creation of the Ray and Dagmar Dolby building.

“With all the hand-wringing brought on by California’s budget woes, it’s sometimes very easy to forget that California is a magical place to dream and to dare and to do big things,” Yudof said.

As part of UCSF’s Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine, the $123 million building encompasses 125 laboratories with scientists researching the earliest stages of human and animal development.

Scientists are looking to understand diseases and how using stem cells and other early-stage cells could treat certain conditions.

“It is a great day for the field of stem cell research, and, most importantly, for the human race,” UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann said.

Researchers hope to find answers about conditions such as birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury and cancer.

“It’s clear that we’re in the midst of a revolution,” said Arnold Kriegstein, director of the Eli and Edyth Broad center. “The revolution has in its heart the goal of transforming our view of disease.”

The event had more than 100 attendees, including philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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