Flash stem cell contest: free passes to see Yamanaka & more at WAFSF meeting in SFO

World Alliance Forum San FranciscoOne of the best stem cell meetings each year is the World Alliance Form San Francisco (WAFSF) stem cell conference.

It brings together in San Francisco many of the very best stem cell researchers from around the world doing the most cutting edge translational research.

You should go!

The speakers include Shinya Yamanaka, Masayo Takahashi, Michael Werner, Roman Reed, Susan Solomon, Jonathan Thomas, Edward Lanphier, Emile Nuwaysir, Hiromitsu Nakauchi, and many more top scientists.

You can see the amazing program here and register here.

However, if you like contests you can enter my flash contest to try win a free pass to the meeting. I have two to give out.

The contest is simple.

Tell me in 50 words or less why you want to go and what you’ll get out of it.

The deadline is in 72 hours at 12:00 PM PT on Sunday, November 2nd.

The top two creative, compelling entries will win.

Diabetes Stem Cell Milestone: ViaCyte Transplants 1st Patient

viacyte encaptraChalk up another exciting development for the stem cell and regenerative medicine field in 2014. It’s been a huge year.

For the first time ever, an ES cell-based device has been transplanted into a Diabetic patient.

ViaCyte working together with Dr. Robert Henry at UCSD did the pioneering transplant, the first in a series as part of an FDA-approved clinical trial being conducted as UCSD Health System.

The trial is a combined Phase I/II testing the safety of ViaCyte’s VC-01 product.

The PR says, “In an open-label, dose-escalating format, ViaCyte expects to enroll approximately 40 patients in the study at multiple clinical sites.” It is entitled “A Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy Study of VC-01™ Combination Product in Subjects With Type I Diabetes Mellitus.”

VC-01 employs human pancreatic progenitor cells derived from human ES cells. The rationale here is that in preclinical studies the cells were shown to have a significantly positive influence on blood sugar in Diabetic mice.ViaCyte New Logo

This is an exciting, positive development for the field and for patients. I can’t wait to see how the trial goes and am cautiously hopeful.

Update on Stem Cell Person of the Year Award 2014

stem cell logoThis year is my third year handing out a Stem Cell Person of the Year Award.

The winner each year should be the top, most positive, outside-the-box influencer in the stem cell.

Each year it doesn’t get any easier picking just one winner from the groups of amazing finalists chosen by the readers of this blog. It’s like being a kid in a candy store as the finalists are so incredible.

I’m close to picking the winner and will announce the Stem Cell Person of the Year 2014 here on the blog on Tuesday, November 4th. The winner receive both recognition and a $2,000 prize.

Stay tuned!

Top 10 Halloween costumes that scare scientists

Grant GhostSome scientists might be relatively immune to the fear of things that nonetheless freak out many everyday normal people: brains, lasers, genetically modified bacteria or viruses, radioactivity.

The list goes on and on.

So as Halloween approaches, what does scare the heck out of scientists?

Here is my list of the top scariest Halloween costumes to freak the lab coats off of scientists.

  • The Ghost of grants “not discussed” (it was a good grant, really!)
  • The Outlier (that data point that ruins everything)
  • The Monster Teaching Load (think of “The Blob” and run)
  • The Third Reviewer (if you just do these 23 new experiments….)
  • The Sequester (leave my precious funding alone!)
  • The Ghost of grants past (you say it expired?)
  • The Grim Scooper (how could you scoop us…we’ve been working on this for four years…)
  • The Zombie Committee Chair (they want your brain)
  • The Idea Pirate (where’d you get that hypothesis?)
  • The Hulk (you know the one who angrily wants to crush you for getting into their “territory” and has 30 people in their lab, always has tons of NIH grants and CSN papers every year and the one to which reviewers compare you)

Map Shows Geographic Surprises in Votes for Stem Cell Person of the Year Award

Stem Cell Person of the Year Award map

With over 4,000 votes cast to select our top 12 finalists for the 2014 Stem Cell Person of the Year Award from more than 50 different countries, how did the votes from various countries play out?

You can see on the map above the top vote getter(s) from the countries that cast the most votes. The more votes overall that a country cast, the dark green it is shown.

In cases where voting was similar amongst several candidates I listed more than one candidate.

For Central Europe, the Pope won out in several countries. Notably, Parmar got the most votes in Northern Europe, the UK, Canada, Australia and Italy. Takahashi got the most votes in Spain. Fasano led in the US, closely followed by Lanza, who was also amongst the top vote getters in votes cast from Canada. Harada led in Brazil. William and DeGette in India. Blogger JuuichiJigen and Endo in Japan.