Leading researchers from Israel and Southern California to present stem cell symposium

November 15, 2005

LOS ANGELES -- Experts in stem cell research and technology from Israel and Southern California will present a symposium on advances in stem cell biology and therapeutics Nov. 16 and 17 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Wednesday's sessions are devoted to academic topics while Thursday's program focuses on corporate participation and investment opportunities that seek to translate research findings into new therapies.

Researchers and investors in Israel are at the forefront of stem cell science, in part because Jewish traditions related to the beginning of life differ from beliefs held by some Christians and others, permitting work with embryonic stem cells that has been the subject of ongoing debate in the United States and elsewhere.

Three of Israel's prominent stem cell scientists will open Wednesday's sessions. Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor, M.D., of Rambam Medical Center at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, will present "The Promise of Human Embryonic Stem Cells," beginning at 9 a.m. He was among the team that first isolated stem cells from human embryos in 1998. He will be followed by his Technion colleague Lior Gepstein, M.D., Ph.D., who will describe the use of stem cells in the regeneration of heart muscle cells. Gepstein and Itskovitz-Eldor were the first to grow the precursors of heart cells from embryonic stem cells.

Developmental geneticist Nissim Benvenisty, M.D., Ph.D., of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, credited with making a number of discoveries and innovations in the development and modification of stem cells, will present a session on human embryonic stem cells in medical and genetic research. Benvenisty was one of the symposium's organizers, along with David Meyer, Ph.D., vice president of Research and Scientific Affairs at Cedars-Sinai.

Wednesday's academic sessions also include:

Thursday's Corporate Sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a keynote address by Alan Colman of ES Cell International titled "Stem Cells: From Bench to Bedside to Bank." ES Cell International Pte. Ltd. of Singapore and Melbourne, Australia, holds the rights to the embryonic stem cell lines that have been approved for research in the United States. Scientists in this country have access to the cell lines through an arrangement between ES Cell International and the National Institutes of Health.

Representatives from biotechnology laboratories in Israel will speak on these topics: Although the symposium is open to the public, the highly scientific nature of the presentations makes it more suitable for the scientific community and those who may be interested in funding stem cell research.
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One of only five hospitals in California whose nurses have been honored with the prestigious Magnet designation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is one of the largest nonprofit academic medical centers in the Western United States. For 17 consecutive years, it has been named Los Angeles' most preferred hospital for all health needs in an independent survey of area residents. Cedars-Sinai is internationally renowned for its diagnostic and treatment capabilities and its broad spectrum of programs and services, as well as breakthroughs in biomedical research and superlative medical education. It ranks among the top 10 non-university hospitals in the nation for its research activities and was recently fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP). Additional information is available at www.cedars-sinai.edu.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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