Dr Alan Trounson, president of the Californian Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the largest agency funding human pluripotent and other stem cell research in the world, visited Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) last week to explore collaborative opportunities with the institute’s new Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. He also gave a presentation entitled Stem Cells: A Revolution in Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, as part of the Keynote Lecture Series.
“We are deeply honoured to have one of leading experts on stem cell research engage in QBRI’s knowledge transfer activities, both to the public of Qatar through the Keynote Lecture Series, and to the QBRI team in meetings this week,” said Dr Abdelali Haoudi, Acting Executive Director of QBRI.
“Dr Trounson’s insight, both as a researcher who led a team that discovered human embryonic stem cells and directed their differentiation into nerve and other tissue cells in the mid-1990s, and as the director of the one of the leading funding agencies of stem cell research, is of great value to QBRI and Qatar,” he continued.
Dr Trounson also met with the QBRI scientists and management to discuss possible collaborations. “QBRI is well-positioned to conduct high-impact research in the area of stem cells and regenerative medicine,” he said. “I believe CIRM can engage with QBRI to develop collaborative research projects that will advance understanding of stem cells.”
Dr Haoudi echoed this view, stating, “CIRM is at the centre of many stem cell research programmes, not only in California but around the world. The opportunity to collaborate with CIRM and CIRM-funded programmes would enhance QBRI’s Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.”
In his lecture, Dr Trounson described how CIRM has used part of its US$ 3 billion of voter-authorized funding to establish 12 new stem cell institutes. The research supported by CIRM has resulted in more than 1200 scientific publications (27 percent in high-impact factor journals). CIRM has also enabled the formation of private-public research teams, focused on translational medicine, to prepare the way for clinical trials for a wide variety of diseases and injuries. These include macular degeneration (loss of central vision); type I diabetes; targeting cancer stem cells in gliobastoma, leukaemias, and solid tumours; HIV/AIDS; stroke; and genetic diseases such as sickle cell disease, β thalassemia.