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Stem Cell Information

Summary of NIH Stem Cell Unit 11/22/2005 Meeting

NIH Stem Cell Unit
Steering Committee Conference Call
November 22, 2005
2:30 PM Eastern Time

Participants: James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.(Chair, NIH Stem Cell Unit Steering Committee), Ronald D.G. McKay, Ph.D. (Unit Director), David M. Bodine, Ph.D., Curt Civin, M.D., Marvin C. Gershengorn, M.D., Robert G. Hawley, Ph.D., Brigid L.M. Hogan, Ph.D., Jonathan Vogel, M.D.

Unable to Participate: Janet Rossant, Ph.D., Elizabeth Nabel, M.D., Story C. Landis, Ph.D.

Welcome and Introductions

Dr. Battey began the conference call by welcoming everyone and thanking them for their time and consideration. Participants then introduced themselves.

Characterization Unit Status Report—Dr. McKay

Dr. McKay updated participants on the activities of the Unit during 2005. Due to construction, the Unit’s physical location changed twice. They finally settled in Building 37, next to the Porter Neuroscience building on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. McKay believes this new location will facilitate collaborations with other NIH intramural scientists. To this end, Dr. McKay would like to initiate quarterly meetings with Dr. Paul Meltzer of NHGRI and Dr. Pam Robey of NIDCR to share information regarding intramural stem cell efforts. Participants agreed that this would be beneficial.

The Unit spent the first half of 2005 growing large batches of the hESC lines listed on the NIH Stem Cell Registry in order to contribute materials to the International Stem Cell Forum (ISCF) characterization effort led by Peter Andrews at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. The report containing the ISCF data analysis will be released at the beginning of 2006.

As the newly funded National Stem Cell Bank in Wisconsin becomes operational, Dr. McKay sees the role of the NIH Stem Cell Unit evolving. The Bank will begin to take over standard characterization and quality control analyses. The Unit will then focus its efforts on simplifying the current cell culture protocols for hESCs, optimizing feeder-free growing conditions, developing assays for rapid assessment of hESCs’ state of differentiation, and setting up homologous recombination.

The Unit is also evaluating commercial providers for standardized tests and reagents such as mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) required for growing undifferentiated hESCs. If the testing and reagents prove reliable, the Unit will be able to recommend easily-accessible commercial providers to scientists beginning to work with hESCs.

FY2006 Budget Request and discussion

Dr. McKay presented the Steering Committee with his proposed budget request for FY2006. The budget for FY06 now includes funds for travel, optimizing feeder-free conditions and for teaching others to grow hESCs. Overall, the FY06 budget request represents a reduction as compared to the requested budget for FY05.

Final recommendations of Steering Committee

The steering committee was satisfied with the report and budget request, and agreed that Dr. Battey should present the budget request to the NIH Scientific Directors. Dr. Battey then thanked everyone for their time and contributions. The call concluded at approximately 3:20 PM.