The first projects to be funded under Sweden's Joint programme on stem cell research have been selected. Nine projects and two networks will share 44 million kronor (4.74 million euro). Many of the projects will carry out research into the nervous system. Other research areas include notch signalling and stem cell differentiation, cancer cells, differentiation of functional pancreatic beta cells from human embryonic stem cells and the derivation, characterisation and banking of human embryonic stem cells. 'These grants are extremely important for advance research so that we can identify areas with the greatest potential,' says Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, General Secretary of Sweden's Scientific council for medicine at the Swedish research council. 'In the long run, it is our hope that stem cells can be used to cure various diseases. However, intensive research is needed before we can say if, and when this will be possible.' An international panel of leading experts in the stem cell research field evaluated the research proposals. From 50 proposals, 11 were selected for funding.