UCL News


CIRM President visits UCL Biochemical Engineering labs

16 November 2006

Dr Zach Hall, President of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), visited UCL's Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Bioprocessing Laboratory on 16 November 2006.

Dr Hall's visit is part of a whistlestop tour of meetings with academics and Downing Street politicians, with a view towards fostering international collaborations to advance the field of stem cell research. His visit to UCL reflects the laboratory's world-class expertise in the translation and scale-up of stem cell and regenerative medicine therapies.

As part of his visit, research group leader Dr Chris Mason (UCL Biochemical Engineering) showed him the unique robotic embryonic stem cell system. The robotic system is concerned with studies that will ensure the consistent bioprocessing of this precious clinical material, which is critical for both discovery research and translation to outcomes in patients.

In 2001, the US government permitted the use of Federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research, but only under restrictive conditions - limiting the ability of American scientists to fully participate in this new field of biomedical research.

In response, the State of California authorised the expenditure of $3 billion over ten years for human embryonic stem cell research in California. The CIRM was established to administer funds, but has been hampered by litigation. However, it is now poised to begin research programmes. It is under these auspices that Dr Hall's visit is taking place, in order for the CIRM to gain an understanding of how stem cell research and regenerative medicine research has thrived in the UK with government support and regulation, and to foster collaborative links.

Dr Hall stated: "The UK is a global centre for stem cell research. UK scientists are at the forefront of this new field and we hope to find opportunities for collaboration. The UK led the way in establishing medical and ethical standards for stem cell research which have been very helpful to us in developing the standards, practices and policies governing stem cell work in California."