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March 22, 2007 at 5:04 PM

Perkins Coie awards stem cell research grant

Seattle law firm Perkins Coie has given a University of Washington researcher a $20,000 grant for stem cell research.

The award, unusual coming from a law firm, is the first of its kind for Perkins Coie and part of a five-year commitment to support research at the UW Medical School’s South Lake Union campus.

The annual $20,000 grants are designed as seed money to help incubate research that could form the basis for larger programs attracting funding from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, said Jim Lisbakken, chair of the firm’s Life Sciences Practice.

The UW originally approached Perkins Coie to fund building of its South Lake Union campus.

“Rather than funding buildings of bricks and mortar, we decided it would be much more personal and of greater interest to see our dollars at work on a particular project,” Lisbakken said.

The UW medical school ranks first among all public medical schools and second among all U.S. medical schools in federal research funding. But some projects never get off the ground because they don’t have enough “proof of concept” data at an early stage to apply for NIH funding.

UW researcher Morayma Reyes received the first Perkins Coie grant for work to isolate and identify stem cells to regenerate heart tissue.

Perkins Coie, which has 15 offices throughout the United States and in China, has represented biotech clients such as Immunex, ZymoGenetics and ICOS, and handled technology license agreements with the University of Washington.

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