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The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) awarded $20.18 million to UC Berkeley, to build centralized stem cell laboratories on campus in the planned Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical & Health Sciences. The CIRM Center of Excellence is scheduled for occupancy in 2010.


The Regulatory Effect of Extracellular Matrix on Breast Stem Cells and Cancer: Tumors arise not only from genetic defects inside of a cell, but also because of the local microenvironment surrounding a cell.  When placed in the “right” microenvironment, breast cancer cells can still self-assemble to create structures present in normal breast. Principal Investigator: Mina Bissell, LBNL.

Cord Blood Transplantation at Children’s Hospital Oakland; CIRM Disease Team Planning Award Principal Investigator, Mark Walters is working with Berkeley Stem Cell Center investigators to make these lifesaving treatments feasible for more patients, such as this sickle cell disease patient cured by transplantation of her sister’s cord blood.

These are human embryonic stem cells that have been differentiated into dopaminergic neurons. Nuclei are shown in blue (DAPI), neurons in red (beta-Tubulin III), and dopaminergic neurons in green (Tyrosine Hydroxylase).

The Effect of Ageing on Muscle Stem Cells and Their Niche: Muscle stem cells of aged individuals typically regenerate less efficiently than those of the young. CIRM Scholar Morgan Carlson and CIRM Principal Investigator Irina Conboy have demonstrated that this property is a result of the cells’ tissue environment.

Human embryonic stem cells cultured on a Nipaam hydrogel artificial extracellular matrix. These hydrogels can be modified to alter the mechanical and chemical properties of the extracellular matrix, affecting cell behavior in vitro and tissue development in vivo. Courtesy of Kevin Healy.

Viral Vector for Gene Delivery to Stem Cells: Viruses can carry genes to stem cells in the adult brain. In CIRM Principal Investigator David Schaffer’s lab, this technology is used to control and enhance the ability of adult brain stem cells to create new neurons.

Differentiation of Midbrain Dopaminergic Neurons: CIRM Scholar Francisco Herrera, CIRM Principal Investigators Robert Tjian and David Schaffer and collaborators Johan Ericson and Thomas Perlmann (Karolinska Insititute) are identifying the genes that regulate the differentiation of these cells, damaged in Parkinson’s disease.

Neuro-precursor cells isolated from the adult rat hippocampus and grown in vitro supported by FGF-2 are capable of generating neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Stress and aging (through elevated levels of the stress hormone glucocorticoid)suppress the proliferation and the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus. Courtesy of Daniela Kaufer.

Vascular Grafts for Coronary Artery Bypass: CIRM Scholar Craig Hashi and Principal Investigator Song Li have fabricated synthetic vascular grafts seeded with mesenchymal stem cells (b) that maintain superior patency to conventional synthetic grafts (a).

Adult neural progenitor cells cultured in the presence of neuronal differentiation media and on a synthetic biomaterial surface with biochemistry and mechanical rigidity comparable to normal brain tissue. This substrate supports nestin-positive progenitors (green) and beta tubulin III-positive differentiated neurons (red). UNPUBLISHED DATA FROM KUMAR AND SCHAFFER LABORATORIES.

Magnetic Particle Imaging, a new Biomedical Imaging Technology: Above is, a preliminary phantom MPI angiogram by CIRM Scholar Patrick Goodwill and CIRM Principal Investigator Steven Conolly. This noninvasive imaging method uses FDA approved contrast agents and could provide 100-fold better resolution for angiography and in vivo stem cell tracking.

Morphological regulation of smooth muscle cell differentiation. Smooth muscle cells were grown on surfaces differently micropatterned with matrix proteins in order to manipulate cell morphology and cell-cell interactions. Courtesy of Song Li.

Stem cells generate new neurons in several regions of the adult brain throughout our lives. This image shows newborn cells that continually divide (blue), and create mature cell types, including neurons (green) and astrocytes (red), in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with learning and memory. Courtesy of David Schaffer.

Endothelial cell structural networks. F-actin (red) assembles into long, straight stress fiber bundles, whereas microtubules (green) are highly curved, reflecting the different roles of these biopolymer systems in controlling cellular shape and mechanics. Cellular structural networks generate mechanical forces on the extracellular environment. Manipulation of these forces could be a mechanism for influencing a wide variety of cell behaviors, including the differentiation of neural stem cells. Courtesy of Sanjay Kumar.