Year 6

The USC Stem Cell Core Shared Research Laboratory (SRL), located at the Eli Edythe Broad CIRM center at the University of Southern California acts as a hub for dissemination of state-of-the-art technology in hESC and iPSC research throughout the region. This laboratory functions to accelerate research involving pluripotent stem cells through the provision of quality controlled cells, bioreagents, shared equipment and laboratory space, biobanking, a cell repository, histology, karyotyping, technical assistance and consultation. The facility also provides stem cell culture training for researchers ranging from high school students to tenured professors. hiPSC derivation was one of our main areas of focus during the current reporting period. With assistance from a student in the CIRM Bridges program we were able to improve upon conventional hiPSC derivation procedures to generate a more efficient and streamlined process. As a result of this work, we were able to derive a total of ten hiPSCs lines for users of the facility: five lines for Dr. Ruchi Bajpai and five lines Dr. Terrence Town. The SRL continued to see an increase in the total number of users for equipment usage and stem cell training courses. We have recently developed curriculum for a new basic cell culture course which will be offered for the first time during the next reporting period. We also plan to develop two new courses: a professional training workshop focusing on methods for genetically modifying hPSCs and a new week-long high school course called the EiHS stem cell academy. The latter will be more classroom based than the existing high school courses to provide an economical option for students to attend the program. We worked collaboratively on a variety of projects with Dr. Ruchi Bajpai, Dr. Judd Rice and Dr. Andrew McMahon. These projects range from basic studies into the epigenetic mechanisms regulating hPSCs to the development of procedures for producing hPSC derived kidney progenitor cells. We also collaborated with a third group at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to optimize the use of ultrasound to transfect stem cells with nucleic acids. This work has shown promising results with low molecular weight plasmids but needs further optimization for larger constructs. One of the most significant changes during the current reporting period was the establishment of a second SRL, which is housed in the same space as the existing CIRM funded facility. The new stem cell genome engineering core, founded with donor funds, provides CRISPR based genome editing to researchers working with hPSCs. Dr. Chang Tong, formerly a research associate with the CIRM SRL now heads the genome engineering core, which is directed by Dr. Qilong Ying.