Engineering stem cell fate

Conference Dates

May 6-11, 2018


Regenerative medicine (RM) offers an opportunity to address the root causes of chronic diseases, which typically result from the breakdown of tissues maintained by stem cells (SC). In Canada, chronic disease consumes 67% of direct health care costs, with approximately $68 billion attributable to treatment costs. Canada is a leader in SC-based RM and my group has contributed to discovery and innovation in this sector.

Early RM technologies focused on the transplantation of cells from the same individual. RM is now at a stage where cell products, such as blood SC, are manufactured for clinical testing. Our program is building the next generation of RM therapeutics – living cells and tissues designed to treat specific indications. Our vision is to understand, at a fundamental level, the mechanisms by which complex tissues develop from SC, and to use this understanding to advance new cell therapies and regenerative medicines.

Our approach is based on three complementary thrusts. First, we are developing computer simulations of normal and diseased human tissue development. These simulations allow us to connect the genetic coding inside SCs to the environment that influences SC growth. These simulations will one day dramatically shorten the time it takes to develop new therapies for degenerative diseases. Second, we are rewiring the genetic code in SC, and engineering the environment around SC, to understand the key requirements of SC-based tissue development, and to increase the quantity and quality of cells SC produced. Third, with our partners, we are moving promising discoveries towards the clinic using advanced models of disease, focusing on testing specialized blood cells as blood cancer and autoimmune disease therapeutics.

Our work is revealing new rules that govern tissue development, generating new technologies for RM applications, and yielding new SC-based therapies.

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