About Us

Director's Message

The Berkeley Stem Cell Center, with affiliated laboratories at UC Berkeley, Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, operates under the guidance of Director David Schaffer.

Basic and translational research emphases of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center include molecular mechanisms of pluripotency; hematopoietic stem cell development and differentiation; neural differentiation and neurodegenerative disease; cardiovascular and skeletal muscle differentiation; cancer and cancer stem cells; tissue engineering for stem cell culture and transplantation; and design and fabrication of instruments for stem cell isolation, biochemical analysis and imaging. Clinical research is focused on the use of cord blood stem cells in treatment of inherited and malignant blood disorders.

CIRM-funded core facilities for pluripotent stem cell culture and tissue engineering are available in Stanley Hall, the Life Sciences Addition, and the Li Ka-Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences.

Director, David Schaffer, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 
Bioengineering, and The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

Program Manager, Berkeley Stem Cell Center
Lily Mirels D.M.D, Ph.D.
Manager, CIRM Shared Laboratory
Mary West Ph.D.


Founding Director's Message

In 1998 James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin derived the first human embryonic stem cell line, ushering in a new era in the study of human developmental biology. The opportunity to expand our understanding of human development, with the potential application to human health has stimulated a surge of interest in the scientific, ethical and legal implications of research on human embryonic stem cells.


Progress had been slowed by uncertainty in federal government investment in this research area. Fortunately, the people of California rose to the challenge and approved a bond initiative, Proposition 71. This legislation authorized the allocation of three billion dollars to support stem cell research and the development of stem cell-based therapies here in California, the birthplace of the biotechnology revolution.

In November 2004, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau asked me to organize a campus-wide effort to crystallize work already underway in the engineering, biology, social science, humanities and law faculties. A diverse group of thirty faculty members contributed to planning sessions to develop a stem cell center organized along several themes of science, law and bioethics.

To provide a clinical context for our efforts, we joined forces with the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), a national leader in cord blood stem cell research and transplantation for treatment of genetic and malignant blood disorders. Dr. Bertram Lubin, President of the Children’s Hospital and Research Center, Oakland, served as founding Clinical Research Director of the newly formed Berkeley Stem Cell Center.

The Berkeley Stem Cell Center is organized around several multidisciplinary research interest groups. Faculty from the Departments of Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering form the Tissue Engineering Group, located in Stanley Hall. The Hematopoietic Stem Cell Group is centered at CHORI and the Life Sciences Addition. The CIRM Center of Excellence in the new Li Ka-Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences houses investigators pioneering new methods of imaging and genome editing, and applications of these technologies to problems of basic stem cell biology including gene expression, aging, cancer and metabolic control. These research activities are supported by individual grants from the National Institutes of Health and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), biomedical research foundations including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, training grants from CIRM and the NIH, and private philanthropic donations.

Our expanding interdisciplinary program welcomes your interest and participation.

-Randy Schekman, Founding Director