Local foundation funding life-changing research

| June 15, 2011
Paula Grisanti and Bob Micou worked together on a National Stem Cell Foundation project.

Paula Grisanti and Bob Micou worked together on a National Stem Cell Foundation project.

“Stem cells may stave off transplant rejection”

“U of L researcher may hold key for a cure for sickle cell disease”

“Stem cells hold promise in treating retinal degeneration”

These are some of the headlines generated by research funded and supported primarily through the National Stem Cell Foundation, which was established in 2005 to provide major support to a partnership between University of Louisville’s Institute for Cellular Therapeutics and Duke and Northwestern universities. Located right here in Louisville, the NFCTR runs like a well-oiled machine under the guiding hand of foundation chair, Dr. Paula Grisanti.

Grisanti, known to many in the community as a caring and compassionate community leader with a real zest for life, is wife of 29 years to Michael Grisanti and mother to three sons: Michael Kyle, 24, John, 20, and Alex, 18.

Her passion in the community extends well past her tight circle of family and friends and is readily evident in her role as the driving force behind the success of such an important foundation for medical research as NFCTR. Grisanti works full-time – for a token $1 per year salary – as a way to make a difference.

Paula Grisanti is chair of the National Stem Cell Foundation.

Paula Grisanti is chair of the National Stem Cell Foundation.

“All of us who serve on this board are either personally affected or have a family member who is affected by one of the broad spectrum of diseases or conditions that may be helped by adult stem-cell research (such as kidney transplants, regenerative disease, sickle cell disease and other inherited blood disorders; multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders). I’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for 21 years. It is my hope that one day there will be a cure for all of us who have chronic illnesses.”

Paula’s husband, Mike, has a kidney transplant. Even though it was remarkably successful, he still must take a handful of anti-rejection drugs every day – and will for the rest of his life. The research funded by the foundation will hopefully eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs with future kidney transplant patients.

Grisanti has raised close to $6 million over the last five years, with 90 percent going directly toward clinical trials and research. The research has been very successful.

“The field is advancing so quickly and moving forward so successfully that I think it will be a handful of years before treatment options will be readily available to people in need and also be covered by insurance.”

Here’s another news headline: “NFCTR fundraiser hosted by Old Louisville Meets New Louisville raises $197,000 for adult stem cell research.” That happened in 2009 as a result of the second annual charity event of what was then an upstart organization of young professionals who believe in searching out and providing support for local non-profits that may go unnoticed by the general public, but whose causes affect multiple generations with amazing results .

NFCTROld Louisville Meets New Louisville has continued to grow by expanding its efforts in uniting multiple generations of Louisvillians to provide support for these unsung nonprofits.

Old Louisville Meets New Louisville continues to support the National Stem Cell Foundation and will hold a benefit cocktail reception on Wednesday, June 22, at 6 p.m. at 21c Museum Hotel, 700 W. Main St. The event promises to be lots of fun with an element of information about stem cell research and clinical trials sprinkled throughout. Cosa Seria, an eight-piece Latin band, will entertain, and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, are included in the $50 ticket price.

To register for the fundraiser at 21c, call 502.379.8544 or visit www.OLMNL.com. For more information on the foundation, visit www.nfctr.org

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Category: Around Town

About the Author (Author Profile)

Shari Baughman
In addition to her duties as a society columnist and photographer, Shari Baughman handles business and community relations for The Voice-Tribune.

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