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Organised by Professor Sir Ian Wilmut FRS, Dr Ian Chambers and Dr Gareth Sullivan
Recent years have witnessed an unprecedented advance in our ability to alter cell identity. By controlled manipulation of the extracellular and/or intracellular environment we can now direct cells between different embryonic and adult states. World-leading scientists will discuss how this re-shaping of the way we think of using cells may herald new strategies for research and therapy.
The proceedings of this meeting have now been published in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions B. Audio recordings of the meeting are also available below.
Professor Sir Ian Wilmut FRS, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, UK Organiser
Ian Wilmut is the Director of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. The Mission of the Centre is to develop new treatments for human disease through innovative research with stem cells. The new Centre covers the full spectrum of research - from basic mechanisms of stem cell regulation, via rigorous translational studies, to clinical trials with stem cells and their derivatives. Purpose designed facilities that will be completed in spring 2011 are being built alongside the new Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The research of Ian’s own group is directed toward understanding the mechanisms that bring about reprogramming of nuclei and with exploiting new opportunities for reprogramming cells to study degenerative diseases, such as motor neuron disease.
Dr Ian Chambers, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, UKMolecular mechanisms underpinning pluripotency
After graduating with 1st class Honours in Biochemistry from the University of Strathclyde, Ian did his Ph.D. at the Beatson Institute, Glasgow. During this time he discovered that UGA, normally a ‘stop’ codon, encodes the 21st amino acid selenocysteine. Ian then performed post-doctoral studies with Nobel Laureate, Paul Berg (Stanford) and after returning to the UK, with Austin Smith. During that time Ian and Austin co-discovered (with Shinya Yamanaka and colleagues) the transcription factor, Nanog. Based on its overexpression phenotype, they named their new discovery after Tir nan Og, the Celtic Land-of-the-Ever-Young. In 2007, Ian demonstrated the existence of cells within the pluripotent compartment defined by lowered expression of Nanog that are primed for, but uncommitted to, differentiation and that can fluctuate back to a high Nanog expressing, differentiation-resistant state. Ian is continuing his research at the University of Edinburgh where he is Professor of Pluripotent Stem Cell Biology.
Dr Gareth Sullivan, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, UKOrganiser
Gareth is a Research Fellow at the MRC Centre of Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. The area of research Gareth is engaged in is the utilisation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells as a research tool to understand disease and exploit the potential iPS technology in toxicology.
Dr Doug Melton, Harvard University, USADirected differentiation: making new cells for patients
Doug Melton is a developmental biologist working on new treatments for diabetes. His laboratory investigates the genes and cells that make pancreatic tissue during normal development with the goal of making human pancreatic cells for transplantation into people with diabetes. This challenging project involves understanding how human stem cells can be directed to make pancreatic beta cells, the cells that make insulin. Dr Melton is the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor in the Natural Sciences at Harvard University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He is also co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and has become a leading researcher and advocate for human embryonic stem cell research. Born in Chicago, Dr Melton earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Illinois then went to the University of Cambridge in England as the recipient of a Marshall Scholarship. He earned a B.A. in history and philosophy of science at Cambridge, and then remained there to earn a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Trinity College and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the author of over 150 publications. His numerous prizes and awards include the Lounsberry Medal from the National Academy of Sciences, the Joslin Medal, and the Scientific American Policy Leader of the Year.
Dr Deepak Srivastava, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and UCSF, USADirect reprogramming of fibroblasts into functional cardiomyocytes
Deepak Srivastava, M.D., is the Director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Wilma and Adeline Pirag Distinguished Professor in Pediatric Developmental Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Before joining Gladstone, Dr Srivastava was a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center in Dallas. He completed his medical training at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and completed his residency in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and a fellowship in paediatric cardiology at the Children’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston as a Pediatric Scientist Development Program fellow before joining the faculty at UTSW in 1996. Dr Srivastava’s laboratory has trained more than 25 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. He has received numerous honors and awards, including endowed chairs at both UTSW and UCSF, as well as election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Society for Pediatric Research, and most recently to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr Srivastava’s research interests include understanding the causes of heart disease and using knowledge of cardiac developmental pathways to devise novel therapeutics for human cardiac disorders. Specifically, his laboratory studies the molecular events regulating early and late developmental decisions that instruct progenitor cells to adopt a cardiac cell fate and subsequently fashion a functioning heart. These pathways may be useful in preventing congenital defects and treating acquired heart disease, particularly with cardiac-specific differentiation of embryonic stem cells. Dr Srivastava is also interested in identifying the causes of human cardiovascular disease by applying modern genetic and stem cell technologies. Such approaches to model disease in human cells promise to yield new therapies and Dr Srivastava has co-founded a biotechnology company to help find new cures for many human diseases. Researchers in Dr Srivastava’s laboratory have elucidated a cascade of transcriptional, translational and signaling events that control the early steps of cardiomyocyte differentiation and expansion, including those involving microRNAs. Human genetics has been used to discover the cause of some human cardiac septal defects and valve diseases, and revealed the mechanisms through which mutations in these genes result in anomalies. One of the developmental genes has potent properties for cardioprotection and is currently in clinical trials for patients suffering ischemic damage to the heart.
Dr Amy Wagers, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard University, USAStem cells for skeletal muscle repair
Amy J. Wagers, PhD directs a research laboratory at Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Stem Cell Institute that focuses on defining the factors and mechanisms regulating the migration, expansion, and regenerative potential of blood-forming and muscle-forming stem cells. Her lab employs sensitive cell sorting approaches for direct assessment of stem cell phenotype and function, and to develop surrogate in vitro assays that faithfully reflect stem cell potential. Dr Wagers completed her Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at Northwestern University in 1999 and received postdoctoral training in stem cell biology in Dr Irving Weissman’s lab in the Department of Pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and an Investigator in the Section on Developmental and Stem Cell Biology at Joslin Diabetes Center. She is a Principal Faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and serves on its Executive Committee. Dr Wagers is a recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award, the Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, the WM Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar Award, the NIH Innovator Award, and an Early Career Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She has authored more than 40 publications in immunology and stem cell biology.
Dr Lorenz Studer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, USA Use of iPS cells in studies of familial dysautonomia
A native of Switzerland, Lorenz Studer graduated from medical school in 1991 and received his doctoral degree in neuroscience at the University of Bern in 1994. Following a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Ronald D. McKay at the NIH, he started his own group at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. His lab is focused on applications of pluripotent stem cells in neurodegenerative disorders and in modelling human neural development and disease. Studer is the director of the Sloan-Kettering center for stem cell biology and a Professor in the Developmental Biology Program and the Department of Neurosurgery. He also currently heads the steering committee of the Tri-institutional stem cell initiative (Sloan-Kettering Institute, Weill-Cornell Medical School, and Rockefeller University).
Dr Marius Wernig, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University, USA Direct conversion of fibroblasts to functional neurons by defined factors
Marius Wernig was born in Innsbruck, Austria. Early on he was exposed to local and contemporary music, which inspired him to not only actively perform musical instruments but also compose. He studied with the contemporary composers David Graham and Stefan Hakenberg. Some of his work was performed by prestigious venues such as the Cologne Opera House or the Bonn Beethoven Orchestra. Despite these early successes, he then decided to study medicine at the University of Vienna. After completion of the basic medical sciences he continued the clinical studies at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. There he joined the laboratory of Rudi Balling to perform his Ph.D. thesis on the effects of valproate on skeletal development and the mechanism of its teratogenicity. After graduation, he began a residency programme in neuropathology at the University of Bonn, Germany, under the supervision of Otmar D. Wiestler. At that institute, he joined the laboratory of Oliver Brüstle working on neural differentiation of embryonic stem cells. For his postdoctoral training, Marius Wernig worked in the laboratory of Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute, MIT, where he spearheaded one of the few research groups worldwide to successfully create pluripotent stem cells from mouse skin cells. He was recently recruited to the faculty of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and the Department of Pathology at Stanford University. His laboratory at Stanford is working on the epigenetic regulation of stem and somatic cells. For instance, his laboratory recently isolated defined factors that induce the direct conversion of skin fibroblasts into functional neurons.
Dr Catherine Prescott, Biolatris, UKThe business of exploiting iPS cells
Cathy has over 20 years of experience in research, management and business within the life-science and venture capital sectors. She is the Founder Director of the consulting company Biolatris Ltd., Chair of the UK National Stem Cell Network Advisory Committee, Director of the East of England Stem Cell Network, Advisory Committee member of The Genome Analysis Centre and Advisory Committee member of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation. Prior to Biolatris, Cathy gained seven years experience working as a director for the venture capital firm Avlar BioVentures and was a non-executive director to several portfolio companies. She was formerly Head of Drug Discovery at RiboTargets Ltd and Assistant Director and Group Leader for SmithKline Beecham. Cathy held post-doctoral fellowships at Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (Berlin), Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (Berlin), and Brown University (USA). Cathy holds a DPhil in molecular genetics from the University of Oxford.
Dr Craig Taylor, Addenbrooke’s Hosptial, UK The therapeutic potential of iPS cells and stem cell banking; treatment for the privileged few of treatment for all?
Dr Taylor entered the fields of histocompatibility and transplantation immunology in 1974. From 1981 to 1993 he was a Senior Scientist in the Tissue Typing Laboratory, Oxford, working under the direction of Dr Alan Ting and Professor Sir Peter Morris, where he developed a specialist interest in characterisation of alloantibodies and their relevance to kidney transplantation. Dr Taylor attained a PhD in 1992 and was subsequently appointed to his current post as Director of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (H&I), Cambridge, in 1994. He was elected as Chair of the British Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (BSHI: 2002 to 2005) and has served on a number of committees including National H&I Specialist Advisor to Clinical Pathology Accreditation UK and advisor to UK Transplant Kidney Pancreas Advisory Group. Under his direction, the Cambridge H&I laboratory has developed close ties with university and clinical colleagues and has a diverse publication record including kidney, liver, cardiothoracic, corneal and bone marrow transplantation as well as immunogenetics and disease susceptibility. In 2002 he was awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists in recognition of his research in the field of Transplantation Immunology.
Dr George Daley, Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Stem Cell Institute, USA Directing and redirecting cell fates
George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D. is the Samuel E. Lux IV Chair in Hematology and the Director of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and past-President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (2007-2008). Dr Daley received his bachelor's degree magna cum laude from Harvard University (1982), a Ph.D. in biology from MIT (1989), and the M.D. from Harvard Medical School summa cum laude (1991). Dr Daley was an inaugural winner of the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, which provides a five year unrestricted grant to pursue highly innovative research, and received the Judson Daland Prize from the American Philosophical Society for achievement in patient-oriented research and the E. Mead Johnson Award from the American Pediatric Society for contributions to stem cell research.
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