UCSC continues to make great strides in building an exceptional interdisciplinary stem cell research program addressing fundamental issues in stem cell biology, focusing on the genomic, molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. This year the UCSC CIRM Shared Stem Cell Facility (SSCF) supported research advances that lead to 9 publications (and one recently submitted), two new human iPS cell lines, a patent application, collaboration with the biotech industry, and multiple grant proposals. The research opportunities provided by the SSCF have allowed our newer stem cell faculty to establish competitive research programs, and existing faculty to pursue their stem cell goals. As a result, UCSC laboratories are making significant progress in areas that are vital to furthering the goals of CIRM and the field of regenerative medicine.
UCSC’s contributions to stem cell research fall into three broad categories – (1) the basic biology governing stem cell identity, behavior, ability to self renew, and contribution to development, (2) the biology of multipotent stem cells committed to following specific developmental fate pathways, and (3) the development of tools and technologies for facilitating stem cell research. In this report we highlight the work of developmental biologists who are taking varied approaches to understand the mechanisms that govern specification and maintenance of stem cell identity, and to delineate the earliest steps towards forming an embryo. We also highlight investigators who study genetic, molecular and cellular factors that govern decisions of multipotent precursor cells to progress along specific cell fate pathways to form key tissues and organs, such as breast, muscle and the nervous, hematopoietic and immune systems. Finally we highlight the efforts of biologist working together with engineers and the R&D industry to create new instruments for advancing stem cell research.
This progress has been achieved because of the opportunities afforded by our CIRM shared facility, which is successful due to two primary factors: it’s unique design, with separate areas for cell culture, cytometry, microscopy, analysis and teaching, all maintained to provide state-of-the-art equipment in clean, safe, highly functional workspaces; and the exceptional full-time staff that have been hired. Their combined skills, experience, knowledge, and dedication ensure that each core within the facility is operating efficiently, optimally and in compliance with all regulatory requirements. In addition, in the past year, the facility purchased over 70% of our goods and services from California suppliers, exceeding the CIRM target level of 50%. In sum, with the SSCF, UCSC has become one of the California Institutions making stem cell-based therapies a reality.