Year 6

The Salk Institute Stem Cell Core Facility – CIRM Shared Research Laboratory commenced operations in 2008. It has developed into a highly active and collaborative center for human pluripotent stem cell research over the last 6 years of CIRM support. During this time, the Core staff has trained over 200 local researchers from our own and neighboring institutes in the practiced art and science of culturing human ES and iPS cell lines. Beyond teaching and training the Stem Cell Core Facility is the physical location where researchers from our Institute come to carry out the cell culture of these unique cells that offer such great promise for unlocking the mysteries of human cell biology and for the study and development of treatments for human disease and ailments. A particular strength of this core facility derives from the working knowledge of viral vector methodologies, many of which have been developed in the laboratory of Dr. Inder M. Verma, faculty head of the Stem Cell Core Facility. Combining the existing knowledge base with a dedicated facility for human pluripotent stem cells has proven a valuable resource for a variety of researchers interested in dissecting the pathways of disease and differentiation into functional cell types relevant to key areas of research. While the research conducted at the Stem Cell Core Facility is broad, it also has particular focus in discrete areas such as reprogramming technology, and stem cell differentiation to study diseases of the blood, liver, brain and immune systems. We are also supporting work aimed at generating therapeutically relevant populations of reprogrammed human iPS cells from a variety of diseases with known or probable genetic links. The ability to create disease-linked human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) with their subsequent capacity to differentiate into a wide spectrum of disease related cell types opens the door for the creation of cellular models of human diseases “in a dish”. The integration of new gene editing technologies have added even more power to these approaches. Thus allowing researchers new opportunities to investigate the mechanisms and pathways at work in these diseases and to use these new cell-based models to make proof of concept discoveries with therapeutic relevance.