Banking on stem cells at Cellular Dynamics International

By Judy Newman, Wisconsin State Journal

cdi_logo_webIt might have raised a few eyebrows — and, perhaps, prompted some hometown concerns — when Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm Holdings Corp. bought Madison stem cell company Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) last April for $307 million.

Founded by UW-Madison’s renowned stem cell pioneer James Thomson in 2004, CDI has been inking powerful deals and gradually adding staff as it has set about to become the premier source for stem cells in the world.

In a meeting with the Wisconsin State Journal this week, Kazuyoshi Hirao, CDI’s new chairman and CEO, and Chris Parker, executive vice president and chief business officer, said the company, at 525 Science Drive, will stay in Madison and will continue to grow here.

Fujifilm chairman and CEO Shigetaka Komori came to Madison in late October and met with Gov. Scott Walker, James Thomson, and leaders of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and of the Morgridge Institute for Research, a privately funded organization paired with the publicly funded Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery at 330 N. Orchard St.

Komori “has a strong commitment to Madison and affection for the people here,” Parker said.

Cellular Dynamics manufactures mass quantities of stem cells using adult tissue or blood samples, reverting them into their embryonic form so they can be reprogrammed into such things as heart, liver or nerve cells. Researchers use the cells to test for toxic substances and scientists test them as potential treatments for all sorts of diseases. Read more …

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