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Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Neural Crest Stem Cells

Neural crest is the fourth germ layer in vertebrates. Embryonic neural crest cells are pluripotent and self-renewal. During vertebrate embryonic development, the neural crest is specified at the boundary of forming neural tube and epidermis, and then migrate extensively along characteristic embryonic environment to differentiate into a wide variety of different cell types, including neurons and glial cells of the peripheral nervous system, melanocytes of the skin, smooth muscle, bone and craniofacial cartilage.

Recently, the stem cell-like neural crest cells have been isolated from adult tissues. Scientists have isolated neural crest stem cell from adult intestine, which can differentiate into neurons, glia, and myofibroblasts in culture; and people also showed the existence of crest stem cells in the adult hair follicle. These neural crest stem cells from adult hair follicle have the capabilities to give rise to a wide array of cell types, including neurons, Schwann cells, smooth muscle cells, chondrocytes, melanocytes. Considering the ethnic concerns of human embryonic stem cells, the persistence of neural crest stem cells in adults opens up new possibilities for regenerative medicine after injury or disease.

Source: Kruger, G. M et al. Neuron (2002) and Sieber-Blum, M et al. Dev. Dyn (2004)

Thursday, January 25, 2007


New York Stem Cell Foundation

The New York Stem Cell Foundation, NYSCF, is wholly privately funded. Since it is free of Federal funds, it is not subject to the Federal restrictions. Based on the current NIH policy, Federal funds only can be used to support research using stem cell lines approved by NIH. There are serious questions about these lines! Please read these: All approved US embryonic stem cell lines may be contaminated! And some comments from GNN: "Many of the lines sanctioned by the president are not available, and some of these lines have patent issues and some were never cell lines to begin with. Many of the cells approved for funding were not cell lines at all but were frozen, uncultured cells."-Human Embryonic Stem Cells: Where Are They?

Unfortunately, sometimes, it is true that Federal requirements substantially inhibit research! NYSCF is a great example that private foundations can further important basic and applied research.

Don't miss it! NYSCF provides travel fellowships for young investigators attend the annual ISSCR meeting and also offers three-Year Post-Doctoral Fellowships. Good news is foreigh applicants are eligible to apply the Post-Doctoral Fellowships but you need to work in New York State. Not bad at all if you are a city-guy!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Journals for Stem Cell Research

Although many journals publish stem cell research articles, only three journals have been launched so far as I know to specifically target stem cell research.


Societies for Stem Cell Research

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Funding Resources for Stem Cell Research in US

  1. NIH On August 9th, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that federal funds may be awarded for research using human embryonic stem cells, but scientists must use the stem cell lines listed on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry.
  2. State funding for stem cell research:

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Stem Cells Ph.D. and Postdoc Training Programs in US

I am a strong believer that stem cell research highlights the next wave of high technologies in the future. In recent years, training programs of stem cell research have been established in the top universities and institutes.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Stem Cell Basics II

Adult stem cells obtained from bone marrow have been used clinically for decades to treat leukaemia. Since no ethnic issues are associated with adult stem cells, people are trying to isolate more stem cells lines in adult tissues. However, the major limitation of using adult stem cells is they tend to lose their stem cell properties and become more specialized during ex vivo manipulations.

Embryonic stem cells are capable of unlimited self renewal without difficulties to maintain their stem cell state. So they provide a great potential for transplantation therapies of a wide range of degenerative diseases. The derivation of first human stem cell line was reported in 1998, when a group led by Dr. James Thompson at the University of Wisconsin developed a technique to isolate and grow the cells. Clinical trials with cells derived from embryonic stem cells are likely to commence within the next few years.

Source: NIH

Monday, January 8, 2007


Stem Cell Basics

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. For instance, to generate specific tissues or even whole organs like the blood, heart, or bones.

In terms of their capabilities of generating different types of cells, stem cells can be classified as three types:

Totipotent stem cells: a fertilized egg considered totipotent, can give rise to all the different types of cells in the body;

Multipotent stem cells: give rise to a small number of different cell types;

Pluripotent stem cells: isolate from a few days old human embryos, give rise to any type of cells in the body except those needed to develop a fetus.

Stem cells also can be classified as embryonic or adult, depending on their tissue of origin. Generally the adult stem cells are tissue specific, multipotent and rarely divide. However, in certain situations, such as during tissue repair after injury, they divide more frequently and adopt the fates of cell types needed. Certain kinds of adult stem cells seem to have the ability to differentiate into a number of different cell types, given the right conditions. If this differentiation of adult stem cells can be controlled in the laboratory, these cells may become the basis of therapies for many serious common diseases.

The major question here is scientists need to find a way to reliably direct the differentiation of stem cells into desired cell types, then they may be able to use the resulting differentiated cells to treat certain diseases. Diseases that might be treated include Parkinson's disease, diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Purkinje cell degeneration, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss.

Source: NIH

Sunday, January 7, 2007


What's Next? Stem Cells!

My dear friends, it is the time again for me to update my blog. So many great topics I can choose, after thinking and thinking, suddenly a thought pops into my mind and can’t go away. Yes. Stem cell! In my opinion, for many aspects, stem cell research represents the ultimate goals of our efforts. How does an organism develop from a single cell? How do health cells in adult organisms replace damaged cells? These questions highlight the greatest secrets of life, which will be uncovered by stem cell research. For the next few days, maybe a couple weeks, I will give an overview of current status of stem cell research, funding resources, top labs and future directions. To be honesty, I am not an expert in this field. But I will try my best. It may not be necessary to be a big bull in most fields. However, it is good to learn something always. Your comments will improve my future posts. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, January 4, 2007


Ph.D. student and Post-doc opportunities in plants

The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) maintains a database of genetic and molecular biology data for the model higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana. It also updates regularly job opportunities in plant fields. Good news for people looking jobs oversea!

Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals (PMPs)

Don't be upset! Plant people. You have your own chances to stand out in biomedical fields. Here is Plant-Pharma online community.

Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals (PMPs) is a category of therapeutic agents (pharmaceutical proteins) produced in live plants. Crops such as corn, tobacco, rice and soy are genetically altered to yield proteins with purity and activity equivalent to those produced by other manufacturing systems, with advantages that include large volume production capacity, reduced capital requirements, and freedom from potential viral and animal protein contamination.

Ph.D. student and Post-doc opportunities in zebrafish community

What to learn more about zebrafish? What to jump into zebrafish research? You will have to know ZFIN. More and more job opportunities for zebrafish people, in academy and industry!

The Emerging Importance of the Zebrafish as a Disease Model

The use of zebrafish as model organisms have become increasingly popular over the past decade, begining with academic research, but is becoming more mainstream in industry as well. An interview with Chaoyong Ma of Phylonix Pharmaceuticals.


Animal models of disease

Researchers have developed model systems using both vertebrates (zebrafish) and invertebrates (the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster; and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans) for drug screening.

Biologists: Get with the program!

Whereas advances in biology have historically emerged from innovation in laboratory techniques, the sophistication of research tools and power of computers may be changing the paradigm. This article proposes that in order to drive further advances, researchers must learn to effectively use computers to manage information from experiments. Bioinformatics is important!

2006-2007 NIH Pre- and Post-doctoral Trainee Stipends

The stipends list represent a 3.5% increase over 2005-2006 stipends. They are effective may 1, 2006.

Monday, January 1, 2007


M.D.-Ph.D. Programs in the United States

A number of medical schools offer combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree programs, which provide students the opportunity to earn both the M.D. and the Ph.D. in areas pertinent to medicine. Below is a list of schools, which currently offer a combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree, and their respective Web site links. Individuals who wish to enter a particular M.D. - Ph.D. program should contact the specific institution directly for curriculum information and admission requirements.

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