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Stem cell symposium, bioethics forum to focus on neural repair, chimeras

April 14, 2006 By Terry Devitt

Two of biology’s hottest and most contentious realms will come under the microscope next week at two conferences hosted by Promega Corp.’s BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTCI) in Fitchburg.

On Wednesday, April 19, the Wisconsin Stem Cell Symposium will explore how stem cells produce neurons and other cells found in the brain. The symposium will feature internationally known researchers in the stem cell field, including Alan Coleman of ES Cell International, Fred Gage of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, and Sean Morrison, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Stem Cell Biology, among others.

Symposium organizer Clive Svendsen, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Waisman Center, says, “Our understanding of this process (cell generation in the brain) may provide important information for the future treatment of neurological illnesses such as Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis and ALS.”

Highlighted issues of the symposium include human embryonic stem cells and neuronal production, the mechanisms of neural stem cell fate choices, the importance of adult neural stem cells in health and disease, and using stem cells to deliver drugs to the brain.

The symposium is open to the public, and the registration fee is $60.

On Thursday and Friday, April 20 and 21, BTCI will be the setting for the fifth annual Bioethics Forum. This year’s forum will focus on clones and chimeras.

The forum is intended to promote public access to accurate scientific information and discussion of social and ethical issues in science. Speakers for this year’s forum include Arthur Derse of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Derek van der Kooy of the University of Toronto, and Cynthia Cohen of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University.

The forum is open to the public, and the registration fee is $65.

BTCI is located at 5445 E. Cheryl Parkway in Fitchburg Center, just off Fish Hatchery Road.