WiCell signs stem cell research agreement

September 5, 2001

The National Institutes of Health and the WiCell Research Institute, Inc., of Madison announced today, Sept. 5, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for research use of WiCell’s existing five human embryonic stem cell lines.

The agreement meets the criteria articulated by President George Bush in his Aug. 9 address authorizing limited federal funding for stem cell research.

WiCell and NIH officials say the new agreement will accelerate a field of research with great potential to improve public health. NIH scientists will be able to access these cell lines to explore new avenues of research in this emerging field of technology.

In compliance with NIH guidelines for the transfer of research materials, the agreement permits NIH scientists to freely publish the results of their research. NIH will retain ownership to any new intellectual property that might arise from the conduct of its research in this area.

In addition, the agreement governs the transfer of cell lines to individual laboratories with minimal administrative burden. WiCell will retain commercial rights to its materials and will receive a fee to cover its handling and distribution expenses in supplying these cell lines.

Furthermore, WiCell has agreed to make stem cell lines available for use by nonprofit institutions that receive grants from the NIH under the same terms and conditions as those available to NIH scientists, provided those institutions enter into a separate written agreement with WiCell.

“This agreement will help us make these cells readily available to qualified scientists in government and universities where the science can be openly advanced and the technology brought to fruition as quickly as possible,” said Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. “WARF is prepared to act on this agreement by making WiCell’s cell lines immediately available to the scientific community.”

“We also expect that the (agreement) we have signed with WiCell could serve as a model for other research institutions, including those receiving grants from the NIH, in crafting their own agreements with WiCell,” says Ruth Kirschstein, acting NIH director.