This meeting was highly relevant to CIRM’s mission. To our knowledge, this was the most high profile meeting on the stem cell niche to be held in 2014. Our goal was to speed the development of stem cell-based therapies, transitioning from preclinical models to clinical trials. The interactions that took place during the meeting were highly significant as a great deal of emphasis was placed on therapeutic strategies.
The Symposium was organized into four sessions around the central theme of understanding the stem cell niche. Three sessions focused on each of the germ layers– ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. A fourth concentrated on translational and clinical applications relevant to each.
We chose topics that were related to regenerative medicine therapies that are either in the pipeline or the clinic. For example, the ectoderm session included speakers who work on the niche as related to skin or neurons. The mesoderm portion of the meeting covered the muscle and hematopoietic niches. The endoderm lectures focused on pancreas, liver and lung. The speakers in the regenerative medicine session included those who have been or are currently involved in clinical trials, some supported by CIRM, that utilize derivatives of the aforementioned germ layers.
The format included lectures, discussions, poster sessions and a panel discussion. The three sessions that covered the germ layers began with talks that focused on developmental processes. In each case, this was followed by talks from investigators who work on diseases that impact the same lineage, including cancer, The fourth session was on translational and clinical applications.
The meeting was organized to specifically address CIRM’s mission and programmatic needs. Thus, our goals were formulated to align with those stated by CIRM, “To support and advance stem cell research and regenerative medicine under the highest ethical and medical standards for the discovery and development of cures, therapies, diagnostics and research technologies to relieve human suffering from chronic disease and injury.” The entire meeting was devoted to topics in stem cell research and regenerative medicine.