2011 World Stem Cell Summit Program Highlights

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Conference Overview:

The 2011 World Stem Cell Summit took place in Pasadena, California on October 3-5, 2011 at the Pasadena Convention Center. Presenting the largest interdisciplinary multi-track stem cell conference, featuring more than 170 expert speakers and 50 hours of in-depth science, business and society presentations.

The Summit was presented by the nonprofit Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) and co-organized with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), City of Hope, Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute, Caltech, Keck School of Medicine at USC, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles. Providing key support were the Platinum and Gold sponsor group including EMD Millipore, the journal Regenerative Medicine and the Douglas Foundation.

With nearly 1,400 attendees, from 25 countries and more than 235 total sponsors, supporting organizations and media partners, the 2011 World Stem Cell Summit once again united the diverse regenerative community with the aim of accelerating the cutting edge research into effective treatments and cures.

The Program:

The main sessions of the 2011 World Stem Cell Summit commenced on October 3. Over three days, the attendees participated in 3 conference tracks: industry, science, and society, 4 concurrent sessions and in 8 focus sessions.

Selected Keynote Presentations

Alan Trounson, PhD, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine provided an update on the agency’s translational roadmap to regenerative medicine. He described the details and accomplishments of CIRM’s funding of $100 million for human embryonic stem cell research, $100 million for adult stem cells, more than $60 million for cancer stem cells, $30 million plus on reprogrammed stem cells, as well as investments in endogenous stem cells for multiple treatments.

Lawrence Goldsten, PhD of UCSD, presented current trends in evidence-based development of stem cell therapies, emphasizing Alzheimer’s Disease, including distinguishing between inherited and sporadic forms of the disease, such as developed as result of traumatic head injury.

Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, from MIT, recently named winner of the National Medal of Science, explored the problems and reality of stem cells and stem cell products. The main conditions that affect the quality of stem cells, such as human embryonic stem cells, are genetics background, culture, isolation and environmental conditions. Subtle phenotypes may be disease relevant.

Andy Grove, PhD, former Chairman of Intel Corporation, dared to ask the provocative question “whether translational medicine is the key to progress or the bridge to nowhere?” He emphasized that the regulatory and IP system is broken and provided novel remedies and a call for action.

Major General James Gilman, Commanding General of the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, described the US army’s extensive research efforts in stem cell technologies. The ultimate objective to treat injuries resulting from explosive devices that are associated with volume, bone, muscle or tissue losses. The regenerative medicine platforms include a Congressional Special Interest program, DARPA, the Telemedicine and Advanced Technologies Research Center (TATRC) and a Congressionally Directed medical research (CDMR) program.

Chis Mason, PhD (University of London) presented the potential of the cell therapy industry to become a multibillion dollar industry as a result of R&D, investment and media coverage. He emphasized the difference between cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Cell therapies representing potentially revolutionary solutions for unmet medical needs.

Gil van Bokkelen, PhD, CEO of Athersys and president of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) described , including a the industry challenges including a still incomplete scientific base, complex manufacturing and novel quality control procedures, a high cost, regulatory and ethical issues, potential storage an distribution issues, clinical application and infrastructure issues, and optimal reimbursement strategies.

Robert Klein, former chair of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), presented the advocacy keynote describing the new government and philanthropic paradigms for funding stem cell research. He explained the long term investment necessary to bring to market a totally new treatment modality such as therapeutic stem cells to market and the innovative intersection of government and philanthropy to deliver on the promise of stem cells.