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Updates from the National Stem Cell Foundation – September 2021

17th September 2021

Updates on the National Stem Cell Foundation and the researchers, partners and supporters who help advance our mission. Together, we fund promising adult stem cell research, invest in STEM education, and connect children in need to clinical trials for rare diseases.

NSCF Partners to Fund Clinical Trial for Chronic Rotator Cuff Tears

NSCF has been delighted to partner with the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) to fund a clinical trial aimed at improving surgical outcomes for patients with chronic rotator cuff tears, one of the most prevalent orthopedic injuries worldwide. Studies show the prevalence of rotator cuff tears may exceed 50% in people over 65, with nearly 20% of injuries caused by repetitive sports-related activities including baseball, football and tennis. Nearly half a million rotator cuff surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year.

In June 2021, Orgenesis Inc., a global biotech company working to unlock the full potential of cell and gene therapies, announced that enrollment had commenced for a clinical trial at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health and the #1 ranked hospital in the world for orthopedics.

The phase 2 randomized and placebo-controlled trial, supported by a clinical research grant from NSCF and OREF, will evaluate the safety and efficacy of a patient’s own stem cells injected at the site of surgery for rotator cuff repair. The types of cells being used show great promise in the regeneration of musculoskeletal tissue to improve full range of motion recovery. This is the fourth collaboration between NSCF and OREF to advance therapies for musculoskeletal age and injury-related damage.

Click here to read the full Orgenesis press release.

National STEM Scholars Receive National Accolades

As we celebrate the National STEM Scholar Program’s sixth anniversary with 60 STEM Scholars in 29 states, we are constantly amazed by the innovation and passion for teaching demonstrated by these middle school science teachers. Did you know that over 8% of the National STEM Scholars have received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching? This annual award is the nation’s highest honor for K-12 STEM teachers and comes with a $10,000 stipend from the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF administers the program on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Congratulations to the following Scholars for this great honor:

Anneliese Bopp
Anneliese Bopp
2016 STEM Scholar
Sodus, New York


Maggie Huddleston
2016 STEM Scholar
Sandy, Utah

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Angela Gospadarek
2017 STEM Scholar
Gorham, Maine


Jim Brown
2019 STEM Scholar
Albany, New York


Holly Miller
2019 STEM Scholar
Fishers, Indiana

NSCF Patient Advocacy Fund Supports World’s First Cord Blood Transplant Patient with Ongoing Care

From an article in the journal Current Opinion in Pediatrics authored by our longtime advocacy partner Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, “Cord blood transplantation is now an established field with enormous potential. Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) increases access to transplantation therapy for many patients unable to identify a fully matched adult donor. In the future, it may emerge as a source of cells for cellular therapies focused on tissue repair and regeneration.” As we highlighted in last quarter’s newsletter, Dr. Kurtzberg performed the world’s first unrelated donor cord blood transplant in 1993 at Duke University, paving the way for this now routine source of donor cells for children who need a bone marrow transplant and don’t have a matched donor.

In 1988, a patient of Dr. Kurtzberg’s with Fanconi Anemia received the world’s first umbilical cord transplant in Paris, France, using umbilical cord cells from a matched sibling. Now 38 years old, he lives and works independently while dealing with some chronic health problems related to his diagnosis. He recently returned to Duke to evaluate and update his treatment plans, and has been able to access the NSCF Patient Advocacy Fund to help cover some of the out-of-pocket costs associated with treatment. We are delighted that our advocacy efforts continue to impact patients such as Matthew. Please click here for Dr. Kurtzberg’s recent update on his remarkable story.

To date, the NSCF Patient Advocacy Fund has provided financial support for nearly 150 children who would not otherwise have been able to afford the cost of clinical trial participation. Ranging in age from 4 months to 19 years, 60% of these children were under the age of 10. The average expenditure per child has been just $3,000, the difference between extreme financial hardship for families or children returning home for palliative care.