Focus On Stem Cell Research

3D rendering of stem cells. Focus On Stem Cell Research banner image.

NINDS Program Description

Stem cells possess the unique ability to differentiate into many distinct cell types in the body, including brain cells, but they also retain the ability to produce more stem cells, a process termed self-renewal. There are multiple types of stem cell, such as embryonic stem (ES) cells, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and adult or somatic stem cells. While various types of stem cells share similar properties there are differences as well. For example, ES cells and iPS cells are able to differentiate into any type of cell, whereas adult stem cells are more restricted in their potential. The promise of all stem cells for use in future therapies is exciting, but significant technical hurdles remain that will only be overcome through years of intensive research.

NINDS supports a diverse array of research on stem cells, from studies of the basic biology of stem cells in the developing and adult mammalian brain, to studies focusing on nervous system disorders such as ALS or spinal cord injury. Other examples of NINDS funded research include using iPS cells to derive dopamine-producing neurons that might alleviate symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and using ES cells to generate cerebral organoids to model Zika virus infection.

Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories

Research/Disease Areas* FY 2016
(Actual)
FY 2017
(Actual)
FY 2018
Estimated
(Enacted)
FY 2019
Estimated
Stem Cell Research $1,516 $1,646 $1,748 $1,626

*Dollars in millions and rounded