Press invitation: The science of stem cells - December symposium at Imperial College

November 27, 2000

As the British parliament prepares to debate a change in the law to allow stem cells from human embryos to be used in research, Imperial College researchers will gather at a Symposium in December to discuss the science behind stem cells, and examine their potential to provide new treatments for a host of diseases.

Journalists are invited to attend the Symposium 'Stem Cells and Development' at the First Anniversary meeting of the Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, on Wednesday 6 December.

Acknowledged world leaders in stem cell science will describe their research in this controversial and revolutionary area, providing journalists with a comprehensive background to the science of stem cells and a guide to the future directions of tissue engineering research.

Speakers from across the College and from other institutes include:

Professor Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Fertility Studies, Imperial College, on embryonic development

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, BHF Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Imperial College, on tissue engineering heart valves

Professor Ara Darzi, Professor of Minimal Access Surgery, Imperial College, on microinvasive surgery

Professor Austin Smith, University of Edinburgh, on stem cells

Professor Brigid Hogan, Vanderbilt University, USA, on molecular approaches to lung development

Professor Geoff Raisman, National Institute of Medical Research (UK), on neural regeneration

Mr Tony Taylor, Head of the Gene Therapy, Genetics and Cloning Unit, Department of Health, on the Donaldson Committee report

Julia Polak, Professor of Endocrine Pathology at Imperial College and director of the Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital said: "The potential use of stem cells to repair failing body parts could lead to revolutionary developments in regenerative medicine. Parliament is currently discussing the possibility of allowing scientists to derive human embryonic stem cells and specific cell lineages, e.g. bone, heart or brain. If this research is successful, it could open up huge new avenues for reparative medicine. The Symposium will address these points."

The Symposium will also celebrate the first anniversary of the Tissue Engineering Centre, a period during which Imperial researchers have scored a number of notable firsts in the tissue engineering field.

Earlier this year a team announced that they had successfully derived human liver cells from stem cells in the blood. Their preliminary research, published in Nature (20 July 2000) showed that other organs such as the brain and kidneys could also be regenerated using stem cells taken from the adult body.

In October, researchers at the Centre reported that they had successfully grown human bone cells outside the body by combining them with the glass ceramic, Bioglass(R), which was discovered by Professor Larry Hench, Centre co-director, and Department of Materials, Imperial College.

For further information contact:

Professor Julia Polak
Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre
Tel: +44 (0)20 8237 2670

Tom Miller
Imperial College Press Office
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6704
Mob: +44 (0)7803 886248
Fax: +44 (0)20 7594 6700

MEDIA NOTE: The Symposium takes place between 9am and 5.30pm on Wednesday 6 December in the Gleeson Lecture Theatre, Lower Ground Floor, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road, London, SW10

Please confirm your attendance with Tom Miller, details above.
The full programme of the Symposium, list of the supporting posters and links to Speakers' home pages is available online at: - or you can request it from Tom Miller, as above.

2. The Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was founded in 1999 by Professors Julia Polak and Larry Hench when they brought together a multidisciplinary team of researchers from across the College to tackle the technical problems of tissue engineering.

They include material engineers to identify and build the best 'scaffolds' upon which tissue can grow, cell biologists to help grow and culture cells, and clinicians and surgeons to assess the delivery of the new treatments to patients.

3. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is an independent constituent part of the University of London. Founded in 1907, the College teaches a full range of science, engineering, medical and management disciplines at the highest level. The College is the largest applied science and technology university institution in the UK, with one of the largest annual turnovers (UKP330 million in 1998-99) and research incomes (UKP173 million in 1998-99). Web site at

Imperial College London

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