International stem cell conference unites leading UK and Indian scientists in efforts to transform regenerative medicine

The University of Sheffield is this week hosting a three-day international conference which will bring together a number of the world’s leading biologists working on the application of embryonic stem cell biology to regenerative medicine.

Scientists in the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Stem Cell Biology were the first in the UK to work on embryonic stem cells in 1999 and continue to train scientists from around the world in the techniques which it hopes will transform regenerative medicine.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Professor Sir Keith Burnett said: “The outstanding work being carried out between our scientists in Sheffield and colleagues in India is truly inspiring. But just as exciting is the way that this work relates to the interface between biological sciences and medicine and engineering.

medium“Research on embryonic stem cells in Sheffield is undertaken in a special culture of innovation and application which deliberately encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration. There is a practical focus in Sheffield which is determined to take the very latest and most advanced research out of the University and to put it to the service of our wider communities in the UK, in India and indeed around the world.”

Conference organiser, Professor Peter Andrews of the University’s Department of Biomedical Science, added: “As a community, scientists working on pluripotent stem cells have already made considerable progress. New applications are on the horizon, and clinical trials for regenerative medicine have begun. However, our knowledge of the mechanisms that guide development of the embryo is crucial to further developments, and it is at conferences such as this that such understanding can be shared and refined for the good of us all.

The conference was jointly organised by The University of Sheffield and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore. It was funded by a UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) grant given to Sheffield and our colleagues from the Indian National Centre for Biological Science, Professors Maneesha Inamdar and Vijay Raghavan.

University of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett jointly opened the meeting with Professor Raghavan, who spoke to delegates by video link from India. Professor Raghavan FRS recently became Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology for the Indian Government, where he is leading an ambitious programme of scientific research and education with crucial relevance to people across India and around the world.

Professor Peter Andrews who pioneered this work in the UK is the principal investigator at the University of Sheffield working on the application of stem cell biology to cancer. Fellow organiser Professor Harry Moore, Professor of Reproductive Biology in the Department of Biomedical Science is currently working on applications of stem cell biology to treatments for blindness.

Well-publicised research from the University has also recently led to the identification of a stem cell population by Dr Marcelo Rivolta and his team that could be used to derive a cell-based treatment for the treatment of patients affected by deafness. In the field of neuro-degeneration, Dr Alex Whitworth's lab has made advances in our understanding of the causes of Parkinson's disease.

The Sheffield and Indian scientists were also joined by colleagues from the National University of Singapore, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in America, the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Science at Kyoto University in Japan, the NIH Centre for Regenerative Medicine in America and the Institute of Molecular Biology in Mainz in Germany.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

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Paul Mannion
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