If this Email does not display correctly, click here to view in a browser
  Newsletter Issue 2, 15 August 2013

Silver Sponsors


"Early Human Development & Fetal-Maternal Medicine"

18 - 19 November

Matrix Building Level 2 & 2M
30 Biopolis Street, Singapore 138671


Bronze Sponsors


























Dear Members, Friends, Colleagues, and Supporters,

With the Newsletter, Issue 2 we would like to update you about the upcoming Stem Cell Society Singapore Symposium 2013.

It's only 102 days away from the event!

In this issue we feature abstracts, bios and questionnaires of two of our plenary speakers, Caroline Gargett from Monash Institute of Medical Research, Australia and Fuchou Tang from the Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center, Peking University, China. Enjoy reading!

The symposium will provide excellent and exciting networking opportunities for you to catch up with your friends, colleagues and collaborators in the stem cell field. You will also learn more about the role of stem cells in early development and the possible use of in fetal-maternal medicine.

The Early-bird registration deadline of 31 August 2013 is approaching fast. You may wish to take advantage of discounts in the range of > 20% to the regular registration fees and register before the deadline ends. The regular registration fees will kick in automatically on the 1 September 2013 and there will be no extension of this deadline.

Please also take note of the following two important deadlines:

Travel and Student Fellowship Applications:

1 September 2013

Oral abstract submission:

1 September 2013

There are up to 4 reserved speaking slots during the plenary sessions.

Poster abstract submission:

1 October 2013

Oral and poster abstracts can be submitted during your online registration.


For Exhibitors:

If you are interested in exhibiting with us to showcase your capabilities, services and products, to your customers check out your opportunities HERE.

To register and submit your abstract, click HERE.

To learn more about the symposium, follow this LINK.

Contact us HERE.


With best wishes and with the hope to network with all of you at the Symposium in November,

The Organizing Committee Stem Cell Society Singapore Symposium 2013




Featured Speakers  


Monash Institute of Medical Research, Australia

Endometrial Stem Cells and Their Application to Women’s Health  

The human endometrium undergoes >400 cycles of growth, differentiation and shedding during a woman’s reproductive years. Endometrial regeneration is likely mediated by stem/progenitor cells. Emerging evidence suggests that disorders associated with abnormal endometrial proliferation may involve endometrial stem/progenitor cells. In human endometrium, colony forming units (CFU), side population (SP) cells and tissue reconstituting cells have been identified. Individual CFUs undergo self-renewal and have high proliferative capacity. Epithelial CFUs differentiate into gland-like structures and stromal CFUs have a MSC surface phenotype and differentiate into mesodermal lineages, typical of MSC. This suggests that human endometrium contains small populations of epithelial progenitors and MSC. Gene expression profiling of purified endometrial epithelial cells from pre- and post-menopausal women enabled us to identify a candidate marker for endometrial epithelial progenitor cells. Endometrial MSC (eMSC) can be prospectively isolated from hysterectomy or biopsy tissue in the CD140b+CD146+ fraction or using a novel single marker, W5C5 (SUSD2).

These markers show that the epithelial progenitors are found in the endometrial basalis while eMSC are located perivascularly in both functionalis and basalis layers. Pilot data using these markers shows that epithelial progenitors and eMSC are shed in menstrual blood, and in women with endometriosis, endometrial epithelial progenitors and W5C5+ MSC are preferentially shed into the pelvic cavity during menstruation, where we postulate they initiate endometriosis lesions. We are examining the utility of autologous eMSC as a cell-based therapy for Pelvic Organ Prolapse, an intractable disorder resulting from herniation of the pelvic organs into the vagina due to childbirth injury. In a nude rat model of fascial repair, we have shown that polyamide mesh seeded with eMSC promoted early neovascularisation, an M2 wound healing response, deposition of non-scarring collagen and improved biomechanical properties of the mesh/tissue complex. These studies demonstrate that human endometrium provides an alternate source of MSC for cell-based therapies.


Associate Professor Caroline Gargett is a Senior Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia and Deputy Director of the Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research, heading up the Women’s Health Theme. She is also a member of Monash University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She discovered epithelial progenitors and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in human and mouse endometrium and has been characterizing these cells for defining markers to examine their role in endometrial regeneration, endometriosis and endometrial cancer. She is also developing a tissue engineering approach to treat pelvic organ prolapse using autologous endometrial MSC and novel scaffolds in collaboration with materials scientists from CSIRO. She uses a novel single marker for purifying endometrial MSC and has been developing cGMP protocols for eventual clinical translation.

She has received numerous National and International awards for her pioneering research;

including the prestigious Society for Gynecological Investigation President’s Achievement Award in 2013, the Society for Reproductive Biology RCRH award for Research Excellence in 2011 and was the Endometriosis Foundation of America Honouree in 2011.

Her work also featured in the NHMRC’s publication “10 of the Best Research Projects in 2008”. She has trained 8 PhD students and numerous Honours and B Medical Science students; several have been awarded postdoctoral fellowships or international awards. She serves on the Editorial Boards of Fertility and Sterility (since 2011), Reproductive Sciences (since 2009), Biology of Reproduction (since 2013), and was an Associate Editor for Human Reproduction (2005-2008). She was Secretary for the Society for Reproductive Biology (2005-2007) and is the current President of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research.


What was the first phenomenon you can recall that fascinated you to do science?

I remember reading about a cell in a “Knowledge” magazine as a young child and was fascinated by the concept and all the intracellular structures. My curiosity was aroused because it was beyond my experience and I wanted to know more.

What attracted you to a career in Science?

I really loved Science at school because I am really interested in how things work and the study of science piqued my curiosity and provided some of the answers.

What paper(s) had the most influence on you and why?

Several of Fiona Watt’s papers influenced my research in particular when I was establishing approaches to identify adult stem cells in the endometrium. I was trying to find methods for identifying the epithelial progenitor cells in a tissue that undergoes cycles of growth and degeneration, and found that hair follicles have cycles of anagen and telogen, reminiscent of the cyclical growth of endometrial tissue. Some of my approaches were adaptations of methods Fiona Watt used for skin, especially the use of label retaining cells. I also borrowed approaches from Graciela Pellegrini who works on human corneal epithelial stem/progenitor cells from the limbus. I developed in vitro assays for human endometrial epithelial cells based on her assays for limbal stem cells.

What's the best advice you ever had?

After I was awarded my first National Health and Medical Research grant which enabled me to establish myself as an independent researcher, I was advised to immerse myself in my new area of research (adult stem cells) and go to the appropriate international conferences. I went to a Keystone Stem Cell Conference. It was so helpful as the many things I learnt about other adult stem cell systems, I was able to adapt to my endometrial stem cells system, particularly several animal models. The networking was excellent - I met a PhD student from Japan, a competitor and colleague, who later spent 3 years in my lab as a postdoc.

What's the worst advice you ever had?

I was once told I am reaching for the lolly jar far too much. That I shouldn’t keep generating “out of the square” ideas for my research, but should focus on more routine work. I ignored that advice and some of the most exciting collaborations and productive research has come from reaching for that almost “out of reach” lolly jar.

What’s your motto in life?

Everything is possible – but as I tell my students some things are harder to achieve and take longer, and the greater the obstacle to be overcome the greater the achievement and sense of satisfaction.

What influenced you to pursue stem cell research?

Having done my PhD later in life (40s) and not being in a position to do a postdoc away from home or stay with my PhD supervisor as he had moved interstate, I changed fields from haematology to reproductive biology. I was introduced to the regenerative capacity of the human endometrium (lining of the uterus) which really fascinated me. I really wanted to determine if there was a stem/progenitor cell population in the basal layer which is not shed during menstruation and from which the new functional layer grows each month (1 cm of mucosa in 4-10 days). My goal was and still is to determine if these cells have a key role in the pathophysiology of poorly understood disorders such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, infertility, endometrial hyperplasia and cancer.  I am keen to find new more effective therapies targeting endometrial stem/progenitor that may provide new treatment options to millions of women suffering these intractable and debilitating diseases.

What do you think of the opinion that stem cell research is ”hyped-up" with too many promises and too little deliveries?

This is true and is driven by the media and mavericks purporting to be stem cell scientists with “magic” cures for desperate patients with a myriad of intractable diseases. Given the time frame from the discovery of methods to obtain and propagate hES cells, the field has moved rapidly, but not for the impatient media. It is imperative that the Stem Cell Societies, Networks and their members regularly articulate the need for caution and appropriate preclinical studies before translating cell-based therapies into the clinic. Only this will deliver the promises of stem cell research into the future.

What is the most promising direction in stem cell research?

In vivo cell reprogramming - to regenerate damaged tissues using endogenous cells reprogrammed into the required cell type to effect tissue repair.


What do you think about stem cells as a business model?

While the allogeneic “off the shelf” use of stem cells is the simplest and easiest to adapt to a business model, I would like to find a way that autologous stem cells could become a plausible business model as it represents individualised medicine and minimizes potential graft rejection. Particularly challenging are adult stem/progenitor cells that need culture expansion prior to administration. iPS cells also fit this category but the field is developing so rapidly that process friendly approaches are likely to be discovered that may work well as a business model for individualised therapies.

What would you be if not a scientist/clinician?

I cannot imagine not being a scientist. Even as I raised my family, when I took time out of the paid working world, I used that time to teach my 3 sons about science – I even got them to do little experiments and write them up in “lab books”.

Somehow this experiment was not successful as none are scientists. I have often wondered if they saw science as a female thing not done in the workforce!

What would you tell a student asking you for advice whether to pick up a career in the stem cell field?

It's an exciting time to enter the stem cell field. New large scale technologies, the possibilities for genetic manipulation of cells and advances made in understanding the differentiation pathways of pluripotent stem cells opens the door to many new projects and the possibility of exciting discoveries. Similarly for adult stem cells, for which methods and approaches are now available for isolating them, studying these rare populations and unravelling their niches. I say “Go for it!”


Fuchou TANG

second image Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center,Peking University, China


Preimplantation genetic diagnosis by single cell genome sequencing  

As the primary cause for failure in human pregnancy and genetic disorders, aneuploidy increases drastically with women's age, and leads to low success rates in live birth and in vitro fertilization (IVF). To select ovum or embryo without aneuploidy in IVF, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) have been implemented with PCR, FISH, SNP and CGH arrays, but are limited in accuracy and resolution, thus often giving high false positives and negatives.

Here we demonstrate highly accurate genome-wide

PGS using multiple annealing and looping based amplification cycle (MALBAC) for single cell whole genome amplification and sequencing of oocytes and 8-cell embryos. By sequencing the two polar bodies of each oocyte, we deduced the ploidy of the female pronucleus, phased the maternal genome, and inferred the oocyte haplotype. In so doing, we show the proof of principle for selecting an embryo free of aneuploidy, particularly for women with recurrent implantation failure and miscarriages, as well as of maternal genetic diseases associated with point mutations.

Fuchou Tang received his Ph.D. degree from Peking University in 2003. Then he moved to University of Cambridge to do postdoctoral research in Dr. Azim Surani’s lab. Collaborating with Dr. Kaiqin Lao of Applied Biosystems, he developed single cell microRNA profiling assay and single cell RNA-Seq transcriptome assay. He used these tools to analyze the molecular mechanism of pluripotency of mammalian early embryos and embryonic stem cells. He joined Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center of Peking University as a group leader in 2010 and uses functional genomics tools to dissect the gene regulation networks of mammalian early embryos and pluripotent stem cells.

Which scientist/clinician has made the biggest impact in your field and why?

Shinya Yamanaka. He changed our concept about the plasticity of differentiated cells.

What paper(s) had the most influence on you and why?

Takahashi K, Yamanaka S.: Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors. Cell. 2006 Aug 25; 126(4): 663-76. It shows the power of master transcription factors to reprogram somatic cells into iPS cells.

What influenced you to pursue stem cell research?

The progress in the stem cell field is so fast and fascinating.

What's the best advice you ever had?

Progress in science depends on new techniques, new discoveries and new ideas, probably in that order. (Sydney Brenner)

What’s your motto in life?

"When Heaven is about to place a great responsibility on a man, it always first frustrates his spirit and will, exhausts his muscles and bones, exposes him to starvation and poverty, harasses him by troubles and setbacks so as to stimulate his mind, toughen his nature and enhance his abilities." (Mencius)

What’s the most promising direction in stem cell research?

In vitro differentiation into functional organs.

© 2013 Stem Cell Society Singapore