Controlling the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells is the goal of many laboratories, both to study normal human development and to generate cells for transplantation in treating various diseases and conditions. RPE (retinal pigmented epithelial) is one important cell type under investigation as it protects and nourishes the photoreceptors and is vital in maintaining healthy eyesight. UCSB researchers Dave Buchholz, Britney Pennington, Roxanne Croze and Cassidy Hinman, working with Pete Coffey and Dennis Clegg, have discovered a novel method to speed up RPE differentiation.
Understanding exactly how stem cells form into specific organs and tissues is the holy grail of regenerative medicine. Now Stem Cell Center Professor Denise Montell has added to that body of knowledge by determining how stem cells produce different types of “daughter” cells in Drosophila (fruit flies). The findings appear today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
In the latest rankings by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, UC Santa Barbara has placed second on the annual list of the top 500 major universities in the world in terms of impact in the field of the sciences.
Center Co-Director James A. Thomson is the recipient of the 2013 McEwen Award for Innovation. He is honored for his work that reproducibly isolated pluripotent cell lines from human blastocysts. This discovery opened the door for the study of human embryonic stem cells and revealed new possibilities for developing cell-based therapies, disease models and reagents for toxicity testing.
Dr. Thomson is the Director of Regenerative Biology at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison Wisconsin and holds professorships at both the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He will be presented with his award at the ISSCR 11th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, during the Presidential Symposium on Wednesday, June 12, which will be immediately followed by his plenary lecture.
A research idea by Dennis Clegg, co-director of UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, is one of 10 winning submissions from a pool of nearly 500 entries selected by the National Eye Institute (NEI) for its Audacious Goals challenge.
Audacious Goals is a nationwide competition for compelling, one-page ideas to advance vision science. Each winner will receive a $3,000 prize plus travel expenses to attend the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting, Feb. 24-26, 2013, at the Bolger Conference Center in Potomac, Md., outside Washington, D.C. The NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
A state-of-the-art gene sequencer will allow Stem Cell Center scientists from across the disciplines to perform cutting-edge genetic research. Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director of the Neuroscience Research Institute, said he expects the new sequencer to open many doors for research at UCSB.
CIRM Scholar Nareg Djabrayan, working with MCDB Professor Joel Rothman, found that the well known Notch signaling pathway causes C. elegans cells to commit to a particular identity, such as a skin or brain cell. When the Notch pathway was blocked by genetic manipulation, the researchers discovered that they could force cells to change their destiny, such that they instead became cells of the intestine. Reprogramming of one somatic cell type to another might be useful in strategies for regeneration of tissue damaged by injury or disease. Results were reported in the November 1 issue of Genes and Development. Nate Dudley and Erica Sommermann were also authors on the study.
Biomedical research at UC Santa Barbara has catapulted to a position of leadership in the arena of stem cell biology, offering progress toward cures for vision diseases such as macular degeneration. Stem cell research has the potential to transform the practice of medicine, by replacing diseased tissue with healthy new cells. Interdisciplinary teams of UCSB researchers –– including world-renowned faculty members recruited from the U.S. and Britain –– are leading the charge. The university’s newly renovated lab space is critical to the mission.