The Gladstone CIRM Shared Human Stem Cell Core Facility supports a wide array of research using human embryonic (ES) and induced pluripotent (iPS) cells. Over 50 researchers from all three Gladstone Institutes (Neurological Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, and Virology & Immunology), as well as the broader UCSF Mission Bay community use the Core on a daily basis. The Core serves as a resource for stem cell culture space, protocols, informal training, reagents, and imaging equipment for stem cell research. It has been an effective, centralized location for the interaction of numerous researchers ranging from those with extensive backgrounds in stem cell research to some with very limited experience in the field. This has lead to the rapid adoption of stem cell approaches by the broader research community—a major objective of the CIRM Shared Facilities Grant.
Research underway in the Gladstone Stem Cell Core is at the cutting edge of today’s rapidly evolving stem cell field. Many established human embryonic stem cell and human iPS cell lines have been brought into the facility and applied to various studies. These range from inquiries into the factors that regulate and define the pluripotent state, to uncovering and refining methods for directed differentiation of these pluripotent cells into cells of the heart or brain. Indeed, the Gladstone Stem Cell Core Users, with support of the facility, now routinely differentiate both neural and cardiac cells from pluripotent stem cells with the highest degree of efficiency that has been reported in the field. Such efficient directed differentiation into these specific cell types was not possible even two years ago, but the Core has provided the needed expertise, management and oversight to build on the strengths of its many Users to realize this potential.
The Gladstone Stem Cell Core also serves as a hub for facilitating the latest in reprogramming technologies. In this respect, many investigators with interests in modeling human diseases, such as those affecting the heart and brain, have undertaken research in the facility. Their direct purpose is often to make iPS cells from patient biopsies or commercially available skin cell lines from individuals carrying genetically defined mutations or harboring disease phenotypes due to yet unknown causes. In this way, The Gladstone Stem Cell Core is enabling investigators with specific and unique disease interests to quickly engage in cutting edge disease modeling and research by working alongside experts from the reprogramming field. These experts include a number of postdoctoral fellows and research associates from the laboratory of Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, the inventor of iPS cell technology, who maintains a research program in the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, as well as Core staff members who have been directly and extensively trained by those experts.
The Gladstone Stem Cell Core has utilized the investment of the state of California to push the envelope of stem cell research, contributing in a major way to moving it toward clinical applications. While the Core serves as a center for basic research, the disease focus of the investigators within Gladstone who use the Core and our collaborators at UCSF Mission Bay who have also joined the effort ensures that the research we do is translatable into the clinic. These first five years of CIRM Shared Research Facility funding for the Gladstone Stem Cell Core have contributed greatly to the rapid advancement of stem cell research, particularly with respect to reprogramming, and cardiac and neural applications, and we look forward to what this talented group of researchers will do with continued support from the Core, made possible by CIRM.