The Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL), belonging to the Institute of Biosciences of the University of Sao Paulo (USP), was created in 2000. The center conducts basic and applied research focusing on the human genome, genetic diseases and stem cells, besides being active in science education and technology transfer. HUG-CELL, which is one of the 17 Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) supported by FAPESP (Sao Paulo Research Foundation) has a team of 11 PI researchers, physicians, technicians, graduate and undergraduate students.
Our group has remarked expertise in mapping and identifying genes responsible for genetic diseases using a wide range of techniques, from classical chromosomal and molecular approaches to next generation sequencing. Since 2005, we have been conducting stem cell research, and have since achieved national and international recognition in this area. Our group also played an important role in approving the bill to allow research with embryonic stem-cell in Brazil in 2005, by the Brazilian congress, and definitively in 2008 by the Supreme Court. Our research also focuses on human genetic diversity and the normal ageing process. The center offers Genetic Counseling to families with affected patients by genetic disorders or “high-risk” couples, having counseled more than 100,000 families since 1968. The process of Genetic Counseling, which is performed by a multidisciplinary team of experienced professionals (physicians, genetic counselors, human geneticists and psychoanalists), includes diagnosis, recurrence risks estimates, genetic testing for “at-risk” carriers, orientation to patients or their families as well as supportive psychoanalysis follow-up. All our scientists are University professors, from USP or UNIFESP, with vast teaching experience and an interest in developing educational tools for the lay public, journalists, high school teachers and students, and public health workers.
The HUG-CELL occupies a 1,200 m2 (13,000 sq ft) building, comprising laboratories, medical offices, and an auditorium. Furthermore, we have access to laboratories and classrooms located in the adjoining Department of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology of the IB-USP. Maintenance costs and payroll expenses for the HUG-CELL are covered by USP, and by the income generated by the center through its services. Moreover, FAPESP, CNPq, and MCT provide research grants to HUG-CELL researchers.