Stem cells: Five years ago, this would have been impossible

A Q&A with Gary Smith, Ph.D., head of U-M’s human embryonic stem cell lab

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Gary Smith, Ph.D., director of the U-M MStem Cell Lab, pulls a sample of stem cells, which are shared with researchers globally.

A recent New York Times article sheds light on the issue of discarding embryos that carry gene mutations. Families such as the one featured in the story who opt for in-vitro fertilization and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and have embryos that they will not use due to genetic issues, are encouraged to donate them to the MStem Cell laboratory instead of discarding them.

Read more about the work the MStem Cell laboratory does below.

Five years ago, Michigan voters did something extraordinary for science. Today, Gary Smith, Ph.D.,and his team a the MStem Cell laboratory carry out the research that voters approved: coaxing human embryonic stem cells to grow and flourish so that medical researchers around the world can study diseases and normal cell function.

Smith sat down for an interview to explain what’s happening with this voter-approved work.

Q: So what exactly happens in this lab?

A: We derive and grow human embryonic stem cells, in a slow, meticulous process that takes Continue reading

Erasing the need for heart transplants

U-M doctors are exploring ways to grow heart tissue for patients, from their own skin cells

Above: Heart tissue created from pluripotent stem cells pulse in a petri dish in Dr. Si’s research lab.

It may sound like a plot point from a sci-fi thriller, but turning skin cells into heart tissue is what Ming-Sing Si, MD, is doing in his research lab at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. And one day, it might eliminate the need for heart transplantation.

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