The UCSF Shared Research and Teaching Laboratory has had a very successful third year of operation. With regard to the research component, the large scope of the projects we support reflects the breadth and depth of stem cell research at this institution. The users of our facility include faculty members and their laboratory personnel who focus on the inner workings of stem cells as well as neuronal, uterine, placental, pancreatic, blood cell and cancer biology. This year the number of scientists using our CIRM-sponsored laboratories increased by approximately 50%. Here they grow human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, i.e., adult cells that have been reprogrammed back to a naïve state. Our investigators also make full use of our equipment, which includes state-of-the-art microscopes for examining the fine structure of cells and for taking movies that enable analysis of their behavior. We also use our CIRM Laboratory to demonstrate new equipment such as a machine that uses very gentle conditions to do live sorts of stem cell subpopulations. Thus, these cells can be studied in the laboratory or injected into animals to determine their regenerative capacity. This capability augments other sorting methods that are well established in our facility.
Our management team and oversight committee have been stable since the Laboratory opened. Drs. Linda Giudice and Susan Fisher continue to establish overall directions. Dr. Fisher is responsible for day-to-day operations, which are overseen by Mr. Nick LaRoque. He works closely with the users to make sure that they comply with facility rules that ensure maximum use while maintaining the equipment in good working order. As facility usage dramatically increased this year, Mr. LaRoque’s high level of involvement was a major factor in making sure that our Shared Laboratory continued to function optimally. The remaining members of our team play crucial roles in teaching the lecture and laboratory portions of our course. Our oversight committee, which is headed by Dr. Arnold Kriegstein, the Director of the Eli & Edith Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF, is composed of our management team and leading UCSF stem cell researchers who represent the major disease pipelines at our institution and who are major users of our CIRM Laboratory.
A major accomplishment during the current year was the establishment of a recharge system that enables us to provide our users with supplies and medium at substantially reduced costs, which are achieved by making bulk purchases. Mr. LaRoque, Mr. Jones and Dr. Fisher managed the process whereby we submitted a recharge proposal, which was approved by UCSF, and the roll out of this new, very popular service, which enables our users to purchase supplies at reduced rates, which are made possible by bulk purchases.
With regard to our Teaching efforts, we offer a 5-day course. Dr. Fisher, Dr. McMaster and Mr. LaRoque direct the didactic portion, which occupies the mornings. They and the entire staff participate in the laboratories, which are held in the afternoons. Mr. Keith Jones provides a great deal of administrative support. Mr. LaRoque handles subsequent communications with our attendees, directing inquiries to the appropriate course instructor. This year we taught 4 one-week courses that were attended by 34 students at all levels including undergraduates from the City College and State University systems who are our partners in the Bridges Program. The lectures included a substantial amount of material on the early stages of human development, important information for stem cell scientists who are trying to recapitulate these processes for therapeutic purposes. Other topics are related to development/diseases of the pancreas, liver, blood cells, heart, brain and digestive system. We also cover current concepts with regard to the role of cancer stem cells in tumor formation, metastasis and recurrence. In the laboratory portion of the course, students learn how to grow and bank human embryonic stem cells. We also teach state-of-the-art methods for analyzing these cells. Finally, we offer one-on-one training sessions in stem cell culture and methods of analysis for scientists who need to jumpstart their projects and, therefore, cannot wait for our next course offering.
For the first time this year we offered a specialized workshop on neural induction. The day started with an overview lecture. The group of 18 attendees was divided into 3 sections for the laboratory portion of the course in which they learned how to produce and passage these cell clusters.
In summary, the users and the Oversight Committee are happy with the way our facility is working. Therefore, no major operational adjustments are anticipated. The courses and the workshops were also highly rated by the participants. Therefore, we do not plan any major changes to our curriculum during the coming year.