Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, September 16, 2010

14 U-M researchers to speak at World Stem Cell Summit in Detroit

U-M researchers will present updates on groundbreaking clinical trials, new insights into basic stem cell biology and reports on some of the latest technical advances at the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit in Detroit next month.

Fourteen U-M researchers and staff members will make presentations. More than 1,000 people from 30 countries are expected to attend the event Oct. 4-6 at the Marriott Renaissance Center.


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Click here for a full summit agenda, as well as information about registration and fees.
• U-M's stem cell research website.

This year’s summit will be the sixth annual conference organized by the non-profit Genetics Policy Institute. GPI recently added two sessions to address last month’s federal court ruling that briefly halted federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.

U-M is a sponsor of this year’s event, which will bring together stem cell scientists, educators, patients and patient advocates, business people and investors, ethicists, policymakers, government representatives and others. More than 150 speakers will be featured.

“We are excited about the World Stem Cell Summit coming to Michigan,” says Dr. Eva Feldman, director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute. “Just two years ago, we suffered under some of the most restrictive embryonic stem cell laws in the country. Now, we are among the nation’s leaders in stem cell research and especially in new therapies based on stem cell technology.

“The summit will be a great opportunity to share these discoveries with the rest of the scientific world and, in turn, hear what other researchers have accomplished.”

Feldman will deliver a keynote presentation in a session titled “The Promise of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine.” Taubman also will speak during the session.

Feldman also will moderate a plenary discussion titled “Current and Future Clinical Trials and Stem Cell Therapies.” Feldman is overseeing the first clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease.

Sean Morrison, director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology, will deliver the summit’s science keynote address. Morrison will discuss the mechanisms that stem cells use to propagate themselves and how defects in those processes can lead to disease.

Dr. Max S. Wicha, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, will explain how cancer stem cell research is being translated into clinical trials. Cancer stem cells are the small number of cells responsible for a tumor’s growth and spread.

Edward Goldman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical School, will moderate a plenary discussion about the best-selling book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and its lessons for stem cell researchers and patients.

The book by Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Before her death, a sample of her cancerous tissue was taken — without her knowledge or consent — and was used to create the first “immortal” cell line, known to researchers worldwide as HeLa cells.

The Lacks story offers several valuable lessons to researchers pursuing new disease treatments that involve the use of stem cells, Goldman says. “What we plan to discuss is how to advance the research agenda while making sure patients/subjects are informed and agree with the research and its goals,” he says.

Other U-M summit presentations include:

• Law professor Rebecca Eisenberg will moderate a panel discussion titled “The Shifting Landscape of Intellectual Property Law and Its Impact on the Future of Regenerative Medicine.”

• Sue O’Shea, co-director of the Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies and a professor of cell and developmental biology at the Medical School, will moderate a session about pluripotency, a cell’s ability to form all of the cell types in the adult body, and human embryonic stem cells are prized because they possess this trait.

• Gary Smith, co-director of the Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical School, will discuss the integration of microfluidics and fully synthetic hydrogels for the long-term growth and directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells.

• Dr. Jack Parent, associate professor of neurology at the Medical School, will moderate a panel discussion about disease modeling. Parent is developing a stem-cell model of a genetic form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. The model will eventually be used to test possible treatments for Dravet syndrome and other genetic forms of epilepsy.

In addition to the three-day World Stem Cell Summit conference, several U-M scientists will participate in the summit’s kick-off event, a free Public Education Day at the Detroit Science Center on Oct. 3. Public Education Day will include hands-on exhibits, lectures on the fundamentals of stem cell science, and panel discussions on a variety of stem cell-related topics.

Summit sponsors also include the University Research Corridor, which consists of U-M, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.