The annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research is Mecca for the hardcore stem cell research community. The next four days will be filled with intense and detailed discussions of all of the molecular details of how stem cells work--details we need to understand to move stem cells into the clinic effectively and safely.

Today stem cell scientists and patient advocates are descending on Toronto for the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. Among those registering and preparing for three days of science is Don Reed, who is one of 20 patient advocates who received a CIRM stipend to attend. 

On his blog today, Reed writes about his trip to Toronto and the important role of patient advocates in promoting science:

From the editor: Yesterday the CIRM governing board approved a $25 million loan to help fund a trial testing the use of an embryonic stem cell-derived therapy for spinal cord injury. Here's our press release. Our guest blogger Roman Reed was injured in a football accident and has since fought tirelessly for spinal cord injury research.

By Don C. Reed

The world is delighted that patients with injured eyes in Italy regained their sight, thanks to the use of stem cells transplanted from their own good eyes. This is a wonderful victory for Dr. Grazziella Pellegrini, the University of Modena, and everyone involved. They are doubly to be congratulated because they are working with one hand tied behind their backs. In Italy, it is illegal to fund embryonic stem cell research. So they did what they could with what was allowed.