This is an incredibly exciting stage in the study of stem cell biology, as it intersects with and invigorates the field of regenerative medicine. At the Black Family Stem Cell Institute, we are on the cusp of major milestones in both basic discoveries and clinical applications. Recent efforts to map the “epigenome” of stem cells and the exploration of how transcription factors influence cell fate have revealed fundamental structural underpinnings of stem cells and shed light on cell functions in general. In the next three to five years, we can expect a revolution in our understanding of the inner workings of the networks and pathways that enable cells to remain stable and responsive.
We have also seen the advent of technologies like cellular programming and reprogramming, gene editing, advanced biophysical tools, imaging and optogenetics. The knowledge we gain at the cellular level will have ramifications for the understanding and treatment of such devastating illnesses as Parkinson's disease, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. We are already seeing clinical trials utilize both pluripotent stem-cell-derived products and adult cell products. The results of these studies will not only accelerate the development of treatments but will also feed back into the laboratory, stimulating new insights into cell function and cell pathology.
True discovery is impossible to predict, but research on every stem cell, every molecule, and every phenotype carries great potential to reveal the secrets of embryonic development and new ways to vanquish disease.
If you want to be part of the revolution, come join us. We welcome faculty, collaborators, trainees, subjects for clinical trials, and philanthropic supporters.
- Sarah E. Millar, PhD