Stem cell research has tremendous potential to transform medical practice, with the development of regenerative cellular therapies for many insidious diseases. Recent work shows that human skin cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells with all the properties of embryonic stem cells. These "induced pluripotent stem" cells (iPS cells) have tremendous implications for regenerative medicine, since it should now be possible to generate patient-specific, immunologically matched stem cells without using embryos.
But there are still major challenges to address before iPS cells, or any stem cell, can be used for therapy. Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie stem cell potency, self-renewal, and differentiation is still incomplete. In addition, new, interdisciplinary bioengineering strategies for stem cell production, characterization, growth, purification and delivery are needed.
UCSB is well positioned to make unique, significant contributions in stem cell research, with extraordinary enabling technologies in biomaterials, systems biology, nanotechnology, micro-processing and bioengineering, all of which are synergistic with fundamental biomedical research efforts. Our approaches are uniquely distinct from those at California medical schools, with our emphasis on basic biological questions and engineering challenges related to stem cell research. UCSB's renowned faculty includes five winners of the Nobel Prize and scores of elected members of national and international academies and societies. The campus is home to 12 National Centers and Institutes, multiple top-ten departments, and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.
The mission of the UCSB Center in Stem Cell Biology and Engineering is to foster an interdisciplinary program of stem cell research and teaching to develop new technologies in the emerging field of regenerative medicine. To accomplish this, the center supports collaboration and exchange of ideas among a wide range of disciplines, with research divided into three general areas: Molecular mechanisms of stem cell pluripotency, proliferation and differentiation; Biotechnology and Bioengineering of stem cell growth, differentiation, sorting and delivery; and Regenerative Medicine to translate discoveries to the clinic.
Funded by a grant of $1.3 million in 2005 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), a stem cell training program has been developed to support graduate and postdoctoral fellows engaged in a variety of stem cell projects.
The UCSB Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering was established free of federal funding to allow research on all stem cell lines. Renovation of this facility, funded by a $2.2 million grant from CIRM, is currently underway.
This website will introduce you to our vision for the future of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. Please
contact us if you would like to become involved in this exciting endeavor.
James A. Thomson, Co-Director (Biology)
H. Tom Soh, Co-Director Co-Director (Technology and Engineering)
Dennis O. Clegg, Executive Director (Strategy, Planning, and Operations)
Peter J. Coffey, Executive Director (Translation)