450 scientists met at the 2nd International Annual Conference of the German Stem Cell Network (GSCN) in Heidelberg
“Stem cells are the origin of all different cells in our body. With their help we can elucidate the course of an illness, investigate models for diseases, and, hopefully, develop innovative therapies”, says Andreas Trumpp, President of the German Stem Cell Network (GSCN) for the year 2014. Trumpp has specialized in cancer stem cells in Heidelberg. The modeling of diseases, the latest methods in genetic engineering and the 3D-printing of cells were some of the hot topics discussed at the 2nd International Annual Conference of the GSCN. Over the course of 3 days, 450 scientists presented and discussed for three days their newest findings at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, covering all branches of stem cell research. The conference with 22 companies as exhibitors took place from November 3rd to November 5th. It was a huge success for the GSCN, which is based at the MDC in Berlin, as it confirmed the aim of this young network to become the most important meeting point for the stem cell research community in Germany.
Young scientists were a main focus at the conference with workshops on scientific and strategic issues, ‘meet the expert’-events and two intensive poster sessions. Scientific highlights came from the international keynote speakers. Jürgen Knoblich talked about small three-dimensional brains cultivated in his lab in Vienna.
Philippe Menasché, a surgeon from Paris, shared his experience with stem cells put to use in heart surgery. He introduced stem cell-patches applied to infarctious tissue with the aim of stimulating tissue-regeneration. This development has entered a clinical stage in which stem cell-patches are transplanted in hearts of human patients for several months (compare ClinicalTrials.gov).
Another hot topic at the conference was the quick and effective reprogramming of cells. The scientists discussed new technologies for quality control in this area of research, and compared methods to increase the quantity of required cell populations.
“The conference was a huge success. I liked the dynamic and lively exchange between researchers and industry, the intensive networking, and the high quality of contributions”, says Daniel Besser, Managing Director of the GSCN. He adds: “This is exactly what we want to support.” The highlight of the past year has been the successful application for a 3-year extension of the funding through the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). “Now our efforts are concentrated on enabling the network to run independently”, says Daniel Besser. Next year, the new GSCN President Thomas Braun, Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, will invite the stem cell researchers to convene in Frankfurt/Main from September 14 – 16, 2015.
For the first time, the conference in Heidelberg featured a public event, which was supported by the Schering Stiftung, that presented the current work and perspectives of stem cell research with films and a panel debate. More than 120 people joined this event and participated in a lively discussion.
You can gain some impressions of the conference by watching this short video on Youtube.
Featured Image: Poster session at the 2nd International Annual Conference of the German Stem Cell Network GSCN. Photo: GSCN