Stem cell symposium to address brain, nervous system

April 4, 2012 By David Tenenbaum

Scientific leaders in the use of stem cells to solve scientific and medical problems will gather Wednesday, April 11 at the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute in Fitchburg, just south of Madison.

The seventh annual Wisconsin Stem Cell Symposium – “Neural Stem Cells: Generation and Regeneration” — will focus on the mechanisms of neural development, modeling neural disorders, and harnessing the potential of neural regeneration.

Thirteen years after the isolation of human embryonic stem cells, scientists continue to explore them, and the related induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), for medicine and basic research.

The symposium will focus on a key potential for stem cells — studying, even repairing, the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Topics include:

  • What are the key mechanisms that underlie neural development?
  • How are stem cells being used to model development and disease?
  • How can we manipulate the “niche” in which neural stem cells grow to influence their development?

The meeting will attract some major names in stem-cell biology, including:

  • Rudolf Jaenisch (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will discuss new methods for reprogramming stem cells;
  • David Gamm (assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health) will focus on using iPS cells to model human retinal disease;
  • Yoshiki Sasai (RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan) will discuss molecular and cellular mechanisms that control neural differentiation and 3-D structure in pluripotent cells; and
  • Xinyu Zhao (visiting associate professor of neuroscience at UW–Madison) will describe how RNA controls the development of stem cells into neural structures.

Other UW–Madison participants include: Anita Bhattacharyya, senior scientist at the Waisman Center; Su-Chun Zhang, professor of neuroscience and neurology; Qiang Chang, assistant professor of genetics and neurology; and Ian Duncan, professor of medical science, School of Veterinary Medicine.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Stem Cell Regenerative Medicine Center and the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute. PeproTech and Promega Corporation are serving as Platinum Sponsors.

BTC Institute provides educational opportunities to support scientific understanding and contribute to the continued success of the biotechnology industry.