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Stem Cell Information

Summary of NIH Stem Cell Unit 11/27/2006 Meeting

NIH Stem Cell Unit
Steering Committee Conference Call
November 27, 2006 11:00 AM Eastern Time

Participants: James F. Battey Jr., M.D., Ph.D. (Chair, NIH Stem Cell Facility Steering Committee); Ronald D.G. McKay, Ph.D. (Facility 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.

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 Facility Status Report—Dr. McKay

Dr. McKay updated participants on the activities of the Facility that occurred during 2006. He has been fostering interaction with other NIH laboratories, to increase the number of intramural investigators trained to work with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).

Intramural investigators from NHLBI, NIDCR, NIMH, and NCI are using the facilities and assistance of the Characterization Facility to conduct a number of promising research projects. Steering committee members discussed the possibility that the Facility could expand outreach to establish collaborations with nearby academic research institutions interested in studying hESCs.

The scientists who staff the Characterization Facility are focusing their efforts on developing assays for rapid assessment of hESCs’ state of differentiation. They have described the use of two fluorescent labeling techniques to determine whether hESCs have activated a stress response pathway, which can serve as a precursor to differentiation. An ongoing project involves knocking YFP into the gene that is thought to be the first activated during differentiation (p21). YFP expression may be induced by X-ray irradiation, and the Characterization Facility scientists provided evidence to suggest that it is a useful marker for differentiating cells within a hESC colony. Steering committee members suggested that it would help the field of hESC research if the Characterization Facility deposits its clonal lines in the National Stem Cell Bank.

FY2007 Budget Request and Discussion

Dr. McKay presented the Steering Committee with his proposed budget request for FY2007. The budget for FY07 now includes funds to allow the Facility to continue its work characterizing growth control mechanisms (such as the stress response pathways) and to continue their interactions with NIH intramural scientists. Dr. McKay also requested additional funds in order to retain and reward the scientists who staff the Characterization Facility. Overall, the FY07 budget request represents a slight increase as compared to the requested budget for FY06.

Conclusion

Dr. Battey thanked the members of the steering committee for their thoughtful comments and suggestions. He will present the budget request to an upcoming meeting of the NIH Scientific Directors. The conference call concluded at approximately 12:00 noon.