Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research hosts first annual Stem Cell Symposium

Stem Cell Symposium speakers, from left: Paul Khavari, Jeremy Reiter, Cheng-Ming Chuong, Ophir Klein, Tannishtha Reya, Andrew McMahon, Margaret Fuller, Arthur Lander, Roel Nusse. (Photo by Ryan Ball)

It was standing room only at the first Stem Cell Symposium hosted by the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.

Close to 200 researchers, students and post-docs from all over California and the world packed into Aresty Auditorium and an adjacent conference room Friday, June 8 to hear scientists from prestigious universities discuss their stem cell research. Participants also explored networking and collaboration opportunities that the organizers hope will help further knit together the state’s stem cell community, brought to the fore by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

“This symposium is a way to highlight research from USC and to bring together the world’s best scientists to talk about their findings and develop connections with each other,” said Andrew McMahon, who takes over as director of the Broad Center on July 1. “The CIRM initiative has brought researchers in California together in cross-institutional partnerships, and events like this symposium enable those partnerships to flourish.”

McMahon was one of nine presenters from USC, Stanford University, University of California, Irvine, University of California, San Diego, and University of California, San Francisco. The speakers focused on the stem cell niche and its role in development and regeneration. The stem cell niche – the microenvironment inside an organism where stem cells live – has attracted increasing attention within the stem cell community of late, said Kathryn Rich, senior program director and a chair of the organizing committee.

“There have not been many conferences about the stem cell niche, and this symposium is an important opportunity to invite stem cell scientists from diverse model systems and backgrounds together to facilitate new ideas and connections,” said Rich. “ We hope this symposium also encourages more students and post-docs into the field.”

The symposium followed an international stem cell techniques course offered by the USC Stem Cell Core Facility, a central repository of knowledge, resources and technology available to researchers working with stem cells. The course attracted scientists from the United Kingdom, South Korea and Mexico, who stayed for the symposium.

Organizing committee members included Rich, Gregor Adams, Kris Kobielak, and Wange Lu. Speakers included Cheng-Ming Chuong, USC; Margaret T. Fuller, Roel Nusse and Paul A. Khavari, Stanford; Arthur D. Lander, UCI; Tannishtha Reya, UCSD; and Ophir Klein and Jeremy Reiter, UCSF.

The symposium was funded in part by a grant from CIRM.