On Saturday, June 20, our talk will be given by Dr. David Schaffer & Dr. Kevin Whittlesey and will be entitled “Recent Advances in Stem Cell Research”
LOCATION: 100 GPB (Genetics and Plant Biology Building), UC Berkeley.
|Join us for a two part talk on recent advances in stem cell ResearchMolecular Elucidation and Engineering of Stem Cell Fate Decisions |
David Schaffer, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
Director, Berkeley Stem Cell Center
Learning the mechanisms that regulate stem cell behavior is critical for understanding the role of these
powerful cells in normal function as well as for harnessing them to repair tissues damaged by disease or
injury. In particular, discovering the signals that regulate whether stem cells replicate themselves or mature
into a specific adult tissue is critical for developing therapies. This knowledge is required for efficient
manufacturing of cells for implantation and for enhancing the chances the cells will survive and function
the way we need to repair an organ. For example, this information can be harnessed to help implanted
cells integrate into neighboring tissue or to even modulate the behavior of endogenous stem cells — the
adult stem cells we all have naturally in all our tissues.
It has become increasingly clear that stem cell behavior is regulated not only by biochemical signals, but
also by biophysical forces. The latter has been difficult to study due to the complexity of mimicking the
way cells interact in real life in the lab. Recent work has demonstrated that synthetic materials can be
harnessed to emulate and thereby study the effects of biophysical cues on cell function. For example,
using engineered materials, we discovered that mechanical cues regulate the maturation of adult neural
stem cells, as well as earlier stage stem cells known as pluripotent stem cells. We have learned what
types of synthetic material work well to grow the desired type of cell in the lab in quantities large
enough for therapy and primed for successful transplantation into patients.
Clinical progress and promise of stem cell based therapies: update from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Kevin Whittlesey, Ph.D.
Senior Science Officer
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was created by Proposition 71 to accelerate the development of stem cell-based therapies for patients with unmet medical needs. The entire regenerative medicine field has seen tremendous advances in recent years, and CIRM is similarly seeing significant progress as many of our translational research programs are moving into clinical trials. In addition to a robust portfolio of earlier phase projects, CIRM is currently funding 11 projects which have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to enroll patients in clinical trials and test these stem cell based therapies for their safety and effectiveness. We will provide an update on the clinical progress of stem cells and regenerative medicine therapeutic approaches to treat diseases such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, and retinal disease.
David Schaffer is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as the Director of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center. He graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering in 1993. Afterward, he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his Ph.D. also in Chemical Engineering in 1998. Finally, he did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Fred Gage at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA before moving to UC Berkeley in 1999. At Berkeley, Dr. Schaffer applies engineering principles to enhance stem cell and gene therapy approaches for neuroregeneration, work that includes novel approaches for molecular engineering and evolution of new viral vectors as well as new technologies to investigate and control stem cell fate decisions. David Schaffer has received an NSF CAREER Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Whitaker Foundation Young Investigator Award, and was named a Technology Review Top 100 Innovator. He was also awarded the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Shaffer Young Investigator Award in 2000, the American Chemical Society BIOT Division Young Investigator Award in 2006, and was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering in 2010.
Kevin Whittlesey is a Senior Science Officer at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state’s stem cell research funding agency. He works in CIRM’s Organ Systems Therapy Development Team, involved with clinical stage translational projects. Prior to joining CIRM, Kevin spent two years at the Food and Drug Administration as a Commissioner’s Fellow working on stem cell and regenerative medicine regulatory policy. Kevin also spent several years working in science policy, first as a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow at the National Academies of Science and then for two years working in the U.S. Congress, first as a AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Policy Fellow for Representative Doris Matsui and then as a Legislative Assistant for Representative Anna Eshoo. Kevin received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Northwestern University and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at Aastrom Biosciences.
This free public talk is presented as part of the monthly “Science@Cal Lecture Series”
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