A friend of mine who works at the UConn health Center sent me this.

As published in The Capital Times, February 21, 2006.
UW Stem Cell Expert Leaving for Post at UConn

By Bill Novak

Wisconsin is losing one of its top stem cell researchers to
Connecticut, but
the loss could open the door for more opportunities for researchers
here to
supply stem cells to a greater number of universities and research
labs.

Ren-He Xu, the first employee of the WiCell Institute six years ago and
now
the senior scientist at the institute, has been named director of the
new
human embryonic stem cell lab being developed at the University of
Connecticut.

"I am very excited," Xu told The Capital Times today. "It is a new
opportunity but also will be a challenge."

The WiCell Institute is a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Alumni Research
Foundation and is home to the nation's first stem cell bank. It is a
private
lab founded by University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Professor
James
Thomson, who in 1998 became the first research scientist to isolate
human
embryonic stem cell lines.

UW spokesman Terry Devitt said Xu's departure shows how well respected
the
stem cell research scientists are at the UW.

"He is a great scientist and he does excellent work here, but this is
an
excellent opportunity for him," Devitt said.

Andy Cohn, spokesperson for WiCell, said Connecticut will offer Xu the
chance to "run his own show" as well as open up another avenue for
WiCell to
supply stem cells to another university.

"We supply stem cells to over 200 different universities across the
country," Cohn said. "We think stem cell research will become a program
that
five years from now every university in the world will want to have."

Xu said he hopes to get the stem cell lab in Connecticut started as
soon as
possible.

"It takes time for a lab to start, but there is very strong support for
it
from all levels," he said. "They will make every effort possible to get
it
going."

Thanks to Thomson's landmark human embryonic stem cell research, the UW
has
a proven track record of results and is becoming a breeding ground for
scientists going off to start stem cell labs at other universities.

Right now, there are between 30 and 35 different groups at the UW
working in
one manner or another on stem cell research.

"The expertise from UW is starting to radiate out," Devitt said.

Cohn said while WiCell will miss Xu's expertise it won't miss a beat in
ongoing research.

"We have over 80 scientists working on this campus in stem cell
research,"
Cohn said.

Xu and his research team discovered early in 2005 how animal materials,
predominantly mouse "feeder" cells, could be eliminated from human stem
cell
cultures and replaced with synthetic human molecules to sustain the
cultures.

Thomson was unavailable for comment today.

Connecticut is the most recent state to provide funding for stem cell
research, with the Connecticut Legislature approving a $100 million
stem
cell research fund in 2005.

Dr. Marc Lalande, chair of the University of Connecticut genetics
department, said in an article in the university's Advance newspaper
today
that recruiting Xu was a coup.

"Dr. Xu's hands-on expertise with human embryonic stem cells catapults
us
into a very strong position in establishing a world-class cell culture
facility in the state of Connecticut," Lalande said.

In addition to becoming the director of the university's stem cell lab,
Xu
will be a faculty member in the department of genetics and
developmental
biology at the university's health center in Farmington, Conn., with a
joint
appointment to the Center for Regenerative Biology at the main campus
in
Storrs, Conn.

Xu said he's sad he's leaving Wisconsin and his friend and mentor James
Thomson.

"It was a long time mentoring by Jamie, plus all the support shown for
WiCell," Xu said. "They were very kind and very supportive to my team."