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Stem Cells

at UW–Madison

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In 1998, UW–Madison developmental biologist James Thomson introduced the world to the first laboratory-derived human embryonic stem cells. His lab's accomplishment underpins the new field of regenerative medicine, and the all-purpose cells are used worldwide to test drugs, develop treatments for diseases and further our understanding of basic human biology. Twenty years later, UW–Madison remains at the forefront, an internationally recognized leader in stem cell research.

The Morgridge Institute for Research Presents

Immortal: An oral history of stem cell discovery

In November 1998, the journal Science published James Thomson's groundbreaking work on embryonic stem cells. There has been 20 years of progress since the initial discovery spawned a new field of research, and tremendous potential exists for the future. We reached out to the people who lived it, and they shared the experiences in their own words. This is their story.

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Stem Cell News

  • Rural Summer Science Camp expands opportunities, curriculum in its 13th year

    The camp, where rural high school students and teachers take a deep dive into science research, is offering a third week this July thanks to support from the National Science Foundation.

  • A new way to wind the development clock of cardiac muscle cells

    A study published in the journal Stem Cells describes a new and unexpected way to accelerate the maturation of induced pluripotent stem cells into cardiac muscle cells.  

  • Orthopedic injury therapy in rodents may soon be headed to the clinic

    The research team is now working to obtain FDA approval for a first human clinical trial to treat devastating injuries in musculoskeletal tissues.

  • Video: Stem cells, lab to clinic

    David Gamm, director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, and Forward Bio Institute director Bill Murphy explain how stem cell scientists at UW–Madison are working with industry to put scientific breakthroughs on the path to helping patients.

  • Stem cell summer camp

    The Morgridge Rural Summer Science Camp has allowed more than 500 high-academic achievers from across the state to spend a week learning from leaders in stem cell research.

Explore all stem cell stories »


As of late 2017, there were 18 clinical trials using embryonic stem cells in six countries.


The number of people — faculty, staff, students — working in labs conducting stem cell or regenerative medicine research on the UW–Madison campus.


The number of stem cell–related patents issued to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation as of May 2018.