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Environmental Factor, March 2013

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Stem cell biology symposium to be hosted by NIEHS in April

By Aleksandra Adomas

Raja Jothi, Ph.D.

Jothi is head of the Systems Biology Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Guang Hu, Ph.D.

Hu leads the Stem Cell Biology Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

A two-day symposium April 11-12, "Unlocking the promise of the stem cells" will bring to NIEHS prominent experts in stem cell research, an area of strategic interest to NIEHS. The symposium will feature world-renowned experts in the areas of embryonic and adult stem cells, cellular reprogramming and differentiation, and epigenetics (see text box). Gerald Crabtree, M.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researcher and professor of pathology and developmental biology at Stanford University School of Medicine will deliver the keynote address.

Stem cells, which are unique in their ability to self-renew and differentiate into any specialized cell type, can be used in cell-based medical therapies and as a model to study development, differentiation, and complex diseases, such as diabetes, spinal cord injuries, retinal disease, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, and cancer.

The organizers, NIEHS lead researchers Raja Jothi, Ph.D., and Guang Hu, Ph.D., believe the symposium will be valuable for many of the NIEHS researchers and trainees who have begun to use stem cells to address clinical and environmental questions.

As Hu explained, “The symposium will cover all the different stem cell types — embryonic, adult, and induced — but also the epigenetic events associated with self-renewal and differentiation processes.” Jothi added, “We would like the symposium to highlight the potential future applications of stem cells, rather than focus on any particular biological question.”

Hu and Jothi hope that the symposium will be an opportunity to enhance interactions among researchers at NIEHS and other research institutions in the area, including Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.

The registration for the symposium is free and open to the general public. The organizers are also accepting abstract submissions for poster presentations.

(Aleksandra Adomas, Ph.D., is a research fellow in the NIEHS Eukaryotic Transcriptional Regulation Group.)


Symposium speakers and talk titles

  • Trevor Archer, Ph.D. (NIEHS, NIH) “Chromatin remodeling and stem cell function
  • Iannis Aifantis, Ph.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York University), “In vivo mapping of Notch pathway activity in adult stem cell differentiation”
  • Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Ph.D. (Salk Institute for Biological Studies), “Stem cells and heart regeneration”
  • Gerald Crabtree, M.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine), “Chromatin regulation: new methods and concepts”
  • Konrad Hochedlinger, Ph.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Stem Cell Institute), “Understanding cellular reprogramming and pluripotency”
  • Brigid Hogan, Ph.D. (Duke University), “The life of breath: stem cells in the adult lung”
  • Guang Hu, Ph.D. (NIEHS, NIH), “Identification of novel players in ES cell self-renewal”
  • Raja Jothi, Ph.D. (NIEHS, NIH), “ES cell identity and homeostasis”
  • Carla Kim, Ph.D. (Harvard Stem Cell Institute), “Microenvironmental regulation of lung stem cell differentiation”
  • Minoru Ko, M.D., Ph.D. (Keio University, Japan), “How do ES cells maintain their exceptional genome stability?”
  • Ihor Lemischka, Ph.D. (Mount Sinai School of Medicine), “Embryonic stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency”
  • Terry Magnuson, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), “Epigenetics, chromatin remodeling and mammalian development”
  • Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D. (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, NIH), “Using IPSC-derived cells for therapy — promises and pitfalls”
  • Lorenz Studer, M.D. (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center), “Derivation of neurons from pluripotent stem cells”
  •  Yi Zhang, PH.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School), “Mechanism and function of Tet-mediated 5mC oxidation”,
  • Thomas Zwaka, M.D. (Baylor College of Medicine), “The strange case of pluripotentiality: embryonic stem cells, germ cells and genomic conflicts”

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