There are a number of buildings around the country named after the late “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry. But there has never been one like this before.
The Roddenberry Foundation, led by the Great Bird’s son Eugene W. Roddenberry Jr., has provided a $5 million gift to Gladstone Institutes. Gladstone is an independent and nonprofit biomedical research organization affiliated with the University of California in San Francisco. It’s dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discovery and innovation to prevent illness and cure patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, neurological disease or viral infections.
The gift will allow Gladstone to rename its San Francisco facility the Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine.
“The Roddenberry gift will help us create the human, iPS-based disease models that we need to accelerate the development of drug therapies for a host of devastating diseases, honoring Gene Roddenberry’s call to ‘live long and prosper,” said Dr. Deepak Srivastava, the director of stem cell and cardiovascular research at Gladstone, in a release.
These iPS cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, reprogram skin cells into cells that, like embryonic stem cells, can develop into other cells in the body. iPS cells have altered the fields of cell biology and stem cell research. This research allows Gladstone to continue focusing on disease areas that afflict millions of people and their families, including Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s, according to the release, afflicts 5.4 million people in the United States alone, and costs $183 billion each year to treat. That number could double by 2050.
The younger Roddenberry said he hoped the gift will influence young minds to enter research fields just as “Star Trek” did for doctors, engineers and others who looked toward the stars for amazing opportunities here on Earth.
“If our support can inspire one child to become a scientist, one organization to become more charitable, one person to imply invest himself or herself in improving the future of our world, then our foundation can be a catalyst in making the future envisioned through Star Trek a reality,” Roddenberry said in a statement.
The gift came nearly 20 years following the death of Roddenberry of heart failure on Oct. 24, 1991.