Program in Regenerative Medicine: Duncan Lab Expansion

Developing the infrastructure for stem cell research with the Medical College of Wisconsin's Duncan Laboratory

Full Project Name:Program in Regenerative Medicine: Duncan Lab ExpansionPrincipal Investigator:Stephen Duncan, PhD, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and AnatomyAward Amount:500,000
Award Date
September2007
Project Duration:72 months

Project Description Narrative:


Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and liver disease are major health problems in Wisconsin, costing the state over $1.1 billion. Although preventive measures such as diet and exercise can improve health significantly, the availability of new treatments will be required to eradicte such diseases. Although intense effort has been focused on generating adult stem cells, embryonic stem (ES) cells are the only cells that have the capacity to generate all cell types and therefore have huge potential as a tool to not only study, but cure many diseases. ES cells renew indefinitely, can be genetically manipulated, and have the capacity to differentiate into all cell types. For ES cell-based therapeutics to be successfull, scientists must fully understand how these cells differentiate (produce different cell types) as well as behave in animal models of disease.

Through this award, the Medical College of Wisconsin will initiate a Program in Regenerative Medicine, by creating an infrastructure for this research in the Duncan Laboratory and generating preliminary results in human ES cell culture and manipulation to examine the role of specific factors that have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and control of cholesterol levels.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Established a tissue culture laboratory designed to support human stem cell work

• Established the ability of the lab to utilize new technology that became available during the funding period that allowed researchers to turn a patient's skin cells into stem cells that closely resemble ES stem cells

• Initiated projects using stem cells to model liver disease and probe the mechanisms that control differentiation of liver cells and cardiac cells identifying a breakthrough discovery that skin cells from patients could be turned into stem cells and those stem cells could be turned into liver cells, which has allowed the direct study of a variety of metabolic disorders and infectious diseases that affect the liver

• Disseminated findings in seven published journal articles and 17 speaking engagements or presentations

• Used early studies to compete successfully for federal funding support to expand and further develop research

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