How stem cells may help children battling birth injuries

From time to time we invite patients or patient advocates to post a guest blog on the Stem Cellar. Today we are featuring Brigitta Burguess, a mother and writer from Michigan, who focuses on pregnancy, parenting, and children with disabilities. Brigitta writes for the HIE Help Center, a website that offers information and supportive resources for families of children with disabilities.


Because stem cells are the building blocks of the immune system, they possess the ability to develop into other types of cells. You can use stem cells to help repair tissues, organs, and blood vessels, and even treat a host of different diseases. This is done through stem cell harvesting and stem cell therapy. In stem cell therapy, stem cells are injected into injured tissues in the hopes of replacing damaged tissue and preserving existing tissues.

Cord Blood

Every part of the human body contains stem cells. However, many areas of the body do not contain enough stem cells to make harvesting them worthwhile. Cord blood, the leftover blood collected from a baby’s umbilical cord or a mother’s placenta after birth, is especially beneficial because:

  • It provides a rich source of stem cells that can be changed into other types of cells and help to maintain and repair tissues
  • Its stem cells are immature and have not developed the ability to attack foreign cells, which makes them perfect for transplant
  • Its stem cells differ from embryonic stem cells in that they are considered adult stem cells and do not require the destruction of an embryo to harvest
  • It can be used to treat blood disorders, immune deficiencies, and certain cancers
  • Storing cord blood can help family and community members receive gene therapy treatment for the aforementioned conditions and diseases

The Applications of Stem Cell Therapy for Kids

Today, over 2,000 total cord blood stem cell transplants are performed annually, with the total number of cord blood banks worldwide reaching over 150. The innovations in stem cell therapy have made waves over the past four decades. Today, more than 80 difference diseases are being treated with cord blood stem cells.

In 2012, many clinical trials revealed that cord blood transplants were an effective treatment for cerebral palsy. Researchers also believe that cord blood stem cells have great potential in treating the neonatal brain injuries such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). As of right now, there is no indication that stem cell therapy can cure these conditions, but there is some evidence that it can lessen the severity of symptoms.

It is important to note that there is thus far no cure for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and resulting motor, cognitive, and/or intellectual disorders. Stem cell therapy seeks to limit the damage caused by HIE and reduce the severity of disabilities caused by HIE, but it is not a cure.

Because stem cell therapy is still in clinical trials, parents should think twice before going down this untested path, as no formal guidelines about administration protocol, dosages, safety, or treatment timeline have yet been established. Clinical trials are important for ensuring that treatments are safe and effective – unregulated treatments bear significant risk.

To learn more about stem cell therapy trials for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, please visit the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Clinical Trial Recruitment Center.


Research Transforming Mature Neurons into Dopamine Factories could Help Fight Brain Diseases

dopaminergic neurons-1

Researchers accidentally converted mature neurons into dopaminergic cells (in green) without first reverting them to a stem-cell state. (Lei-Lei Wang/UT Southwestern)

A team of researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center made a startling discovery that could improve patient outcomes for neurological diseases.

And they did it completely by accident.

Scientists have long believed that turning one type of mature cell into another is impossible without first reverting the original cell back into a stem cell. So, the group set out to make dopamine-producing neurons (the kind of cell destroyed in Parkinson’s disease) out of glial cells (support cells in the brain and spinal cord) in live mouse brains. But according to results published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, they instead turned the mature neurons into dopaminergic neuron-like cells. They believe their inadvertent discovery could be used to treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord.

Dopaminergic neurons in the brain produce dopamine, which is important for controlling voluntary movement and the motivation-reward system that drives behavior. The loss of these cells has been linked to disorders like Parkinson’s disease, and scientists are on the hunt for new methods of replenishing these vital neurons.

Glial cells, which surround neurons and provide protective support, can regenerate and multiply easily, thus making them better candidates as potential neuron replacement therapies. That’s why Zhang and his team targeted them in the first place.

They injected a mixture of cell reprogramming promoters into a part of a mouse’s brain called the striatum.

To the team’s dismay, the glia remained unchanged; instead, so-called GABAergic medium spiny neurons that are plentiful within the striatum—and key in controlling movements—had transformed into cells that behaved like dopaminergic neurons. These new cells displayed rhythmic activity and formed network connections, much like dopaminergic cells do. Most importantly, the team found that the new cells came into being without passing through a stem cell-like transition phase.

“To our knowledge, changing the phenotype of resident, already-mature neurons has never been accomplished before,” said Zhang in a statement. “This could mean that no cell type is fixed even for a functional, mature neuron.”

Zhang believes UT Southwestern’s new discovery should be further investigated for the treatment of Parkinson’s and related disorders. “Such knowledge may one day be applied to devise therapeutic strategies for treating neurological diseases through reprogramming the phenotype of local neurons,” the team wrote in the study.



Stem Cell Agency Invests in New Immunotherapy Approach to HIV, Plus Promising Projects Targeting Blindness and Leukemia


While we have made great progress in developing therapies that control the AIDS virus, HIV/AIDS remains a chronic condition and HIV medicines themselves can give rise to a new set of medical issues. That’s why the Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded $3.8 million to a team from City of Hope to develop an HIV immunotherapy.

The City of Hope team, led by Xiuli Wang, is developing a chimeric antigen receptor T cell or CAR-T that will enable them to target and kill HIV Infection. These CAR-T cells are designed to respond to a vaccine to expand on demand to battle residual HIV as required.

Jeff Sheehy

CIRM Board member Jeff Sheehy

Jeff Sheehy, a CIRM Board member and patient advocate for HIV/AIDS, says there is a real need for a new approach.

“With 37 million people worldwide living with HIV, including one million Americans, a single treatment that cures is desperately needed.  An exciting feature of this approach is the way it is combined with the cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine. Making CAR T therapies safer and more efficient would not only help produce a new HIV treatment but would help with CAR T cancer therapies and could facilitate CAR T therapies for other diseases.”

This is a late stage pre-clinical program with a goal of developing the cell therapy and getting the data needed to apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to start a clinical trial.

The Board also approved three projects under its Translation Research Program, this is promising research that is building on basic scientific studies to hopefully create new therapies.

  • $5.068 million to University of California at Los Angeles’ Steven Schwartz to use a patient’s own adult cells to develop a treatment for diseases of the retina that can lead to blindness
  • $4.17 million to Karin Gaensler at the University of California at San Francisco to use a leukemia patient’s own cells to develop a vaccine that will stimulate their immune system to attack and destroy leukemia stem cells
  • Almost $4.24 million to Stanford’s Ted Leng to develop an off-the-shelf treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly.

The Board also approved funding for seven projects in the Discovery Quest Program. The Quest program promotes the discovery of promising new stem cell-based technologies that will be ready to move to the next level, the translational category, within two years, with an ultimate goal of improving patient care.

Application Title Institution CIRM Committed Funding
DISC2-10979 Universal Pluripotent Liver Failure Therapy (UPLiFT)


Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles $1,297,512


DISC2-11105 Pluripotent stem cell-derived bladder epithelial progenitors for definitive cell replacement therapy of bladder cancer


Stanford $1,415,016
DISC2-10973 Small Molecule Proteostasis Regulators to Treat Photoreceptor Diseases


U.C. San Diego $1,160,648
DISC2-11070 Drug Development for Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Human Patient iPSCs


Scripps $1,827,576
DISC2-11183 A screen for drugs to protect against chemotherapy-induced hearing loss, using sensory hair cells derived by direct lineage reprogramming from hiPSCs


University of Southern California $833,971
DISC2-11199 Modulation of the Wnt pathway to restore inner ear function


Stanford $1,394,870
DISC2-11109 Regenerative Thymic Tissues as Curative Cell Therapy for Patients with 22q11 Deletion Syndrome


Stanford $1,415,016

Finally, the Board approved the Agency’s 2019 research budget. Given CIRM’s new partnership with the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute (NHLBI) to accelerate promising therapies that could help people with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) the Agency is proposing to set aside $30 million in funding for this program.


Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th District)

“I am deeply grateful for organizations like CIRM and NHLBI that do vital work every day to help people struggling with Sickle Cell Disease,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th District). “As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, I know well the importance of this work. This innovative partnership between CIRM and NHLBI is an encouraging sign of progress, and I applaud both organizations for their tireless work to cure Sickle Cell Disease.”

Under the agreement CIRM and the NHLBI will coordinate efforts to identify and co-fund promising therapies targeting SCD.  Programs that are ready to start an IND-enabling or clinical trial project for sickle cell can apply to CIRM for funding from both agencies. CIRM will share application information with the NHLBI and CIRM’s Grants Working Group (GWG) – an independent panel of experts which reviews the scientific merits of applications – will review the applications and make recommendations. The NHLBI will then quickly decide if it wants to partner with CIRM on co-funding the project and if the CIRM governing Board approves the project for funding, the two organizations will agree on a cost-sharing partnership for the clinical trial. CIRM will then set the milestones and manage the single CIRM award and all monitoring of the project.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to create a first-of-its-kind partnership with the NHLBI to accelerate the development of curative cell and gene treatments for patients suffering with Sickle Cell Disease” says Maria T. Millan, MD, President & CEO of CIRM. “This allows us to multiply the impact each dollar has to find relief for children and adults who battle with this life-threatening, disabling condition that results in a dramatically shortened lifespan.  We are pleased to be able to leverage CIRM’s acceleration model, expertise and infrastructure to partner with the NHLBI to find a cure for this condition that afflicts 100,000 Americans and millions around the globe.”

The budget for 2019 is:

Program type 2019
CLIN1 & 2

CLIN1& 2 Sickle Cell Disease

$93 million

$30 million




Sequencing data helps us understand the genes involved in heart cell development

skin cells to beating heart

Human heart cells generated in the laboratory. Image courtesy of Nathan Palapant at the University of Queensland

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States and is estimated to be responsible for 31% of all deaths globally. This disease encompasses a wide variety of conditions that all effect how well your heart is able to pump blood to the rest of your body. One of the reasons that heart disease is so devastating is because, unlike many other organs in our bodies, heart tissue is not able to repair itself once it is damaged. Now scientists at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland and the Garvan Institute for Medical Research in Australia have conducted a tour de force study to exquisitely understand the genes involved in heart development.

The findings of the study are published in the journal Cell Stem Cell. in a press release, Dr. Nathan Palapant, one of the the lead authors, says this type of research could pay dividends for heart disease treatment because:

“We think the answers to heart repair almost certainly lie in understanding heart development. If we can get to grips with the complex choreography of how the heart builds itself in the first place, we’re well placed to find new approaches to helping it rebuild after damage.”

To determine which genes are involved in heart cell development, the investigators use a method called single cell RNA sequencing. This technique allowed them to measure how 17,000 genes (almost every gene that is active in the heart) were being turned on and off during various stages of heart cell development in 40,000 human pluripotent stem cells (stem cells that are capable of becoming any other cell type) experimentally induced to turn into heart cells.  This data set, the first of its kind, is a critical new resource for all scientists studying heart development and disease.

Interestingly, this study also addressed a commonly present, but rarely discussed issue with scientific studies: how applicable are results generated in vitro (in the lab) rather than the body, in the context of human health and disease? It is well known that heart cells generated in the lab do not have the exact same characteristics as mature heart cells found in our bodies, but the extent and precise nature of those discrepancies is not well understood. These scientists find that a gene called HOPX, which is one of earliest markers of heart cell development, is not always expressed when it should be during in vitro cardiac cell development, which, in turn, affects expression of other genes that are downstream of HOPX later on in development. Therefore, these scientists suggest that mis-expression of HOPX  might be one reason why in vitro heart cells express different genes and are distinct from heart cells in humans.

The scientists also learned that HOPX is responsible for controlling whether the developing heart cell moves past the “immature” dividing phase to the mature phase where cells grow bigger, but do not divide. This finding shows that this data set is powerful both for determining differences between laboratory grown cells versus mature human cells, but also provides critical biological information about heart cell development.

Joseph Powell, another lead author of this research, further explains how this work contributes to the important fundamentals of heart cell development:

“Each cell goes through its own series of complex, nuanced changes. They are all different, and changes in one cell affect the activity of other cells. By tracking those changes across the different stages of development, we can learn a huge amount about how different sub-types of heart cells are controlled, and how they work together to build the heart.”

Hits and Myths as people celebrate Stem Cell Awareness Day

UC Davis #1

Stem Cell Awareness Day at UC Davis

Every year, the second Wednesday in October is set aside as Stem Cell Awareness Day, a time to celebrate the progress being made in the field and to remind us of the challenges that lie ahead.

While the event began here in California in 2008, with then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger highlighting the work of CIRM, saying: ”The discoveries being made today in our Golden State will have a great impact on many around the world for generations to come.” It has since grown to become a global event.

Here in California, for example, UC Davis and the University of Southern California (USC) both held events to mark the day.

At UC Davis Jan Nolta, PhD., the Director of the Stem Cell Program, introduced a series of speakers who highlighted the terrific work being done at the university. Peter Belafsky talked about using stem cells to repair damaged trachea and to help people who are experiencing voice or swallowing disorders. Mark Lee highlighted the progress being made in using stem cells to repair hard-to-heal broken bones. Aijun Wang focused on some really exciting work that could one day lead to a therapy for spina bifida (including some ridiculously cute video of English bulldogs who are able to walk again because of this therapy.)

USC hosted 100 local high school students for a panel presentation and discussion about careers in stem cell research. The panel featured four scientists talking about their experience, why the students should think about a career in science and how to go about planning one. USC put together a terrific video of the researchers talking about their experiences, something that can help any student around the US consider becoming part of the future of stem cell research.

Similar events were held in other institutions around California. But the celebration wasn’t limited to the Golden State. At the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Texas, they held an event to talk to the public about the clinical trials they are supporting using stem cells to help people suffering from heart failure or other heart-related issues.


Finally, the UK-based RegMedNet, a community site that unites the diverse regenerative medicine community, marked the day by exploring some of the myths and misconceptions still surrounding stem cells and stem cell research.

You can read those here.

Every group takes a different approach to celebrating Stem Cell Awareness Day, but each is united by a common desire, to help people understand the progress being made in finding new treatments and even cures for people with unmet medical needs.

Join us for our next installment of “Ask The Stem Cell Team” on November 1st.

Visual impairment and vision loss can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to live their life and complete their daily routine. According to the report for the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, 25.5 million Adult Americans 18 and older reported experiencing vision loss. Of these 25.5 million American adults, 15.3 million women and 10.1 million men report experiencing significant vision loss.

While some vision loss has been curbed with contact lenses, antibiotics or even surgery, other more serious conditions like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and inherited retinal degenerations, present greater challenges.

So what options are available?

Stem cell-based therapy.

Some say emerging stem cell technologies could hold the promise of autologous grafts to stabilize vision loss through cellular replacement or paracrine rescue effects. It is believed that since most of the diseases that lead to loss of vision do so as a result of abnormal vasculature and/or neuronal degeneration, the use of stem cells to stabilize or prevent visual loss may hold great promise. Our stem cell team will discuss these treatments, and what, if any approach may significantly address vision loss for stem cell researchers.


This event will feature Rosie Barrero, a patient advocate and clinical trial participant, Dennis Clegg,Co-Director, UCSB Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering and Henry Klassen, MD Ph.D, Director, UC Irvine Stem Cell & Retinal Regenerative Program.

Our Facebook Live event, “Ask the Stem Cell Team About Sickle Cell Disease” is– Thursday, November 1st – from noon till 1pm PST. You can join us by logging on to our Facebook.

Also, make sure to “like” our FaceBook page before the event to receive a notification when we’ve gone live for this and future events.

We want to answer your most pressing questions, so please email them directly to us beforehand at

A recording of the session will be available in our FaceBook videos page shortly after the broadcast ends.

We hope to see you there.


Coproduction : Patient Advocacy Redefined

Almost 15 years ago, California voters via approval of Proposition 71 authorized $3 billion to create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). CIRM, otherwise known as California’s Stem Cell Agency, accelerates stem cell treatments for patients with unmet medical needs.


Credit: Starworks Network

Along with the fact that CIRM has pioneered the way for cutting edge science, we are also global innovators in empowering patient advocates to fully partner in biomedical research funding through a healthcare practice called “Coproduction” that is also being applied to biomedical research processes.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the terminology, “coproduction” in healthcare in the US has also been called “patient-centered” care or “patient-centered medical home.”  As it is being applied to biomedical research, it is an approach in which researchers, practitioners and the public work together, sharing power and responsibility from the start to the end of the project, including the generation of knowledge. The global movement towards co-production gives patients and patient advocates formal roles as full partners so that research brings about outcomes that improve patients’ health more effectively and efficiently.  Both in healthcare and biomedical research, chronic and life threatening diseases and conditions offer the greatest need and produce the greatest benefits from robust coproduction.

Just last week one of our Board members, Jeff Sheehy, wrote a commentary which appeared in Nature, about coproduction. We spoke to him for a Q&A profile on the piece to give us his thoughts on this emerging trend.

Jeff Sheehy is a former San Francisco City and County Supervisor and a long-time HIV/AIDS activist and pioneer for LGBT equality who has dedicated his life to public and community service. He has served on CIRM’s Board since its inception in 2004.

AS: I know CIRM is unique, but what is one of the things that you see that CIRM does  or has done that’s unlike any other agency.

JS: One of the amazing things about the structure of CIRM is the way in which Proposition 71 actually gives formal power to patient advocates. CIRM is unique because patient advocate members of the Board are full participants in the Grants Working Group, CIRM’s peer review body, including writing reviews for late stage projects. That is one example, but when you look at CIRM, at every level patient advocates are critical to the functioning of the agency.  Advocates exert leadership in reviewing applications and approving funding them, participating in Clinical Advisory Panels to advise and monitor late stage projects, setting budgets, creating strategy, determining policies and selecting leadership of the institution. I believe this is unique – that CIRM treats patient advocates as full partners in the agency’s processes and ensures that participation with formal, statutory power.

AS: What’s one piece of advice that you would pass along to a patient advocate, or those who haven’t yet realized how much power they have to push things forward for certain disease indications?

JS: I would suggest that patient advocacy is beneficial in a number of ways. One is from a purely personal point of view. When one or one’s loved one is diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening disease or condition, it is terrifying and the sense that one’s future is outside of one’s control is overwhelming.  For instance, when I was diagnosed with HIV in early 1997, even though life-saving combination therapy was just coming onto the scene, I did not have health insurance, did not know how to access care, and was not even completely sold on the efficacy of the new therapy.  I felt that I, like everyone diagnosed with HIV up to that point, had been given a death sentence. Joining my brothers and sisters in ACT-UP not only helped me understand and learn about HIV and the new therapy along with how to access care and the medications, but it also empowered and emboldened me to fight back not only for myself but for everyone impacted by HIV/AIDS. So, I took that first step of becoming an advocate for myself and my community.  Taking action, actively fighting for yourself, your loved ones, your community, learning about your disease and how to combat it—I think this has a psychological and I would argue even a physical benefit because you’re no longer passively accepting the cards you or your loved ones have been dealt.  In HIV, one of the most heavily stigmatized diseases, owning your diagnosis, working with others who have HIV, partnering with one’s caregivers, obliterates psychological barriers imposed by stigma and helps one achieve the self efficacy and resiliency necessary to survive and thrive.

Another way that patient advocates can bring great value to the struggle against chronic and life threatening diseases and conditions is to actively engage in the research process, to become a partner in the search for therapies and cures.  Multiple paths are available.  One can participate in a clinical trial, though it is extremely important to be aware of the risks and to recognize that the benefits of the research are unlikely to be realized by you.  In the first trial of a therapy for HIV in the early 1980s, every participant died, yet almost 15 years later we had developed combination therapy that, as an example of a “Lazarus effect,” literally brought AIDS patients out of their deathbeds. Research/medicine is able to make huge leaps forward due to the altruism of motivated trial participants.

Additionally, you can advocate for funding for research, which should also be linked to advocacy for policy changes that ensure access for everyone to new therapies and cures.  Proposition 71 was led by patient advocates, and CIRM, in its intellectual property policies, mandates access to newly discovered therapies and cures.  Also, if you look at the way CIRM operates, patient advocates take partnering to another level by active and equal participation in the functions of the agency.  Patient advocates not only need to be available to take part, but also we must strongly press the model of coproduction across the board so that other research entities recognize the immense value and benefit of engaging and creating partnerships with patients and patient advocates.


A Recap: Meeting on the Mesa

By: Shyam Patel

Over 1200 business and science leaders in regenerative medicine descended upon an uncharacteristically cloudy San Diego last week for the annual Cell and Gene Meeting on the Mesa. Reflecting the general growth and enthusiasm in the industry the meeting attracts so many attendees now that it is forced to move to a larger venue next year.

According to meeting organizer, the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), there are currently 892 companies and 1000 clinical trials in regenerative medicine worldwide. To date, the regenerative medicine industry has raised a staggering $10.3B in financing, and IPOs and venture capital raises this year are already much higher than previous year totals. These, of course, are good problems to have.

The industry is still riding the euphoria generated by recent US market launches of the first gene modified cell therapies, Kymriah and Yescarta, and the first gene therapy, Luxturna. Both chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies and gene therapies were the stars of the meeting with almost all the panels featuring companies in these two areas. The successful launches of these products, along with the Food and Drug Administration’s commitment to RMAT (Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy, a new designation that can mean accelerated review for a treatment) and the aforementioned cash infusion, have reduced the industry’s anxiety around regulatory and financing risks.

Now the focus is on reimbursement and adoption strategies. The big challenge for the industry will be proving the value of these one-time potentially curative but expensive therapies to the healthcare system. These new ways to treat and cure diseases will need new ways to pay for them.

As in previous years CIRM-funded projects were very well represented at the meeting. Company presentations from CIRM grantees such as Caladrius, Capricor, Cellerant, Nohla Therapeutics, Regenerative Patch Technologies, Sangamo and ViaCyte showcased the breadth of regenerative medicine research in California. In addition, the science research talks by CIRM-funded investigators Helen Blau, Stephanie Cherqui, Matt Porteus and Mark Tuszynski, which ranged from muscle rejuvenation compounds to CRISPR’ing sickle cell disease, made it clear that the next wave of technologies is already on the horizon.

All of these presenters noted that CIRM funding was the crucial driver in progressing the projects out of the laboratory and into the clinic.

In the end, the 1500 partnering meetings that took place over two days were all focused on a singular goal: delivering revolutionary therapies as quickly as possible to patients in need.

The CIRM Alpha Clinics Highlight the Critical Role of Nurses in Regenerative Medicine

By: Geoffrey Lomax Dr. PHD

In August, I had the pleasure of representing CIRM at California’s first conference dedicated entirely to training nurses and health professionals about cellular therapies. The City of Hope Alpha Stem Cell Clinic sponsored the program titled: Critical Role of Nursing Cellular Therapies. The Alpha Clinic at City of Hope has spent the past three years focusing on the role nurses play in the successful delivery new stem cell and regenerative medicine treatments to patients. They have published an article detailing this experience:

The event could not have come at a better time. More the 300,000 registered nurses are licensed in California – the state’s single largest health profession. There are over 875 regenerative medicine clinical trials in progress worldwide. These trials include gene and stem cell therapies. With an extensive network of world-class medical centers, California is ideally positioned as a leader in the regenerative medicine space that is witnessing billions of dollars in new investment annually.

The conference provided an opportunity for nurses and health professional to learn about the regenerative medicine clinical trials, including:

  • Describing the nurse’s role in clinical trial research
  • Understanding the ethical responsibilities of nurses in caring for patients undergoing cellular therapy
  • Conveying the patient experience throughout the treatment process
  • Describing procedures for administering cell therapies and monitoring for safety

A complete agenda may be found here:

Over 150 participants attended each day of the conference. The majority were registered or licensed nurses (86%) and other attendees included doctors, scientists, and students. The vast majority were from California, but participants traveled from New York, Florida, Arizona and Washington State to attend. Almost, all the session were graded as good to excellent by 90% of those responding to the program survey. One responded wrote:

On the whole, an incredibly professional, informative, and well-presented meeting.  Very impressive!

During breaks, I had the opportunity to meet participants. Many indicated that they are becoming aware of the growing field of regenerative medicine and wanted to transition their careers into this space.  They view this event as important for raising awareness of new opportunities for career development.

The CIRM Alpha Clinics Network is continuing with a series of educational webinars in the area of nursing and cell therapies. For more information contact:

3 Must Watch TEDx Talks About Stem Cell Research

TEDx talks are an excellent resource to learn about a myriad of subjects. They’re available on almost any subject and you can watch most of them in 18 minutes or less. This week instead of our traditional roundup, we are featuring a roundup of talks that caught our eye by speakers who are involved with CIRM.  

1. Stemming Vision Loss with Stem Cells by Dr. Dennis Clegg


Dr. Clegg earned his BS degree in biochemistry at UC Davis and his PhD in biochemistry at UC Berkeley, where he used emerging methods in recombinant DNA to study the sensory transduction systems of bacteria.

He is the co-founder of  Regenerative Patch Technologies (RPT), which is running a CIRM-funded clinical trial targeting age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

2. Childhood Poverty by Dr. Bert Lubin


Bertram Lubin, MD, is the first pediatrician to serve as president and chief executive officer in the 100-year history of Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland.

He is a former a CIRM Board Member. And his talk discusses childhood poverty and the shocking correlations between childhood poverty and disease.

3. Artificial Retinas for the Blind by Mark Humayun


Dr. Humayun is a CIRM funded professor of Ophthalmology, Biomedical Engineering, and Cell and Neurobiology at the Doheny Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He has spent years developing this therapy and so it’s understandable that he might be a little nervous finally getting a chance to see if it works in people.