MADISON – Stemina Biomarkers Discovery Inc. has learned it will receive a $150,000 Phase I grant from the National Cancer Institute through the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research grant program.

Stemina, founded in late 2006 by chief executive officer Beth Donley and UW-Madison stem cell scientist Garbriella Cezar, is aiming to use human embryonic stem cells to help determine whether new drug candidates will cause birth defects in humans. So-called “biomarker” research can also test drug toxicity in other ways.

The SBIR grant awarded this week will be used for research to develop a test that could combine stem cell research and metabolomics, which is the systematic study of biomarkers that specific cellular processes leave behind. The goal is to develop a test to determine whether cancer-fighting drugs actually kill the cancerous stem cells, which otherwise can regenerate.

Cezar and fellow UW-Madison scientist James Thomson are featured as part of a group of 12 “stem cell revolutionaries” in the latest issue of Forbes magazine. The story notes that Cezar “is using stem cells to get to the roots of autism. Autism appears in a tenth of the children born to mothers who take the epilepsy drug valproate.”

The company has raised $1.5 million from angel investors and received a $1 million start-up grant from the state.

For more information, visit or contact CEO Donley at 608-577-9209.

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Click here to view Forbes article.