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  Newsletter Issue 1, 22 July 2015






"Opportunities & Challenges in Stem Cell Based Medicine"

17 -18 November 2015

Matrix Building
30 Biopolis Street, Singapore 138671







Dear Members, Friends, and Colleagues,

We would like to inform you about the 7th Stem Cell Society Singapore Symposium held on the 17 - 18 November 2015.

We are pleased to be able to present to you John Rasko, University of Sydney, Australia and Mahendra Rao, New York Stem Cell Foundation as Keynote speakers. Besides our 2 distinguished Keynotes we also have assembled a list of excellent speakers all of which are leading experts in their respective domains (for more information about sessions and invited speakers please view our Symposium webpage).

Today's newsletter introduces Nick BARKER, Institute of Medical Biology, Singapore and Gabor FOLDES, Imperial College London, UK, two of our confirmed plenary speakers.

Enjoy reading about two of our plenary speakers and do join us for the symposium in November!

To learn more about the symposium, follow this LINK.

Note that the Early Bird registration period with discounted fees will expire on the 11 September 2015.

To register, click HERE.

Contact us HERE.

The Organizing Committee "Stem Cell Society Singapore Symposium 2015"

Featured Speakers  


Institute of Medical Biology, Singapore

Lgr5+ Stem Cells in Epithelial Homeostasis, Regeneration and Disease of the Stomach


Gastric epithelium continuously self-renews throughout life, driven by Lgr5+ adult stem cells. Long-term ablation of the Lgr5+ cell compartment using an Lgr5-DTR mouse model severely impairs epithelial homeostasis in the pylorus and the corpus. We characterize the transcriptome of the pyloric Lgr5+ stem cells, revealing new gastric stem cell-specific markers that can be used to selectively

target cancer-causing mutations to the Lgr5+ stem cell compartment in the stomach as a means of evaluating their contribution to gastric cancer initiation. We also present a novel gastric epithelial-specific Cre line that will be invaluable for generating mouse models of human gastric cancer.

Biography Lab webpage PubMed


As a postdoc with Professor Hans Clevers, Nick made the seminal discovery that deregulation of the Wnt signalling pathway is the initiating event in colon cancer (Science; > 2300 citations). In 2001, he joined a Biotech company co-founded by Hans Clevers (Semaia Pharmaceuticals), where he worked as a senior scientist developing small molecule inhibitors of the Tcf/b-catenin protein complex as colon cancer therapeutics. In 2006, he rejoined Hans Clevers group as senior staff scientist, where his most notable achievement was the identification of the Wnt target gene Lgr5 as a marker of adult stem cell populations in various organs, including the intestine, skin and stomach (Nature; >1500 citations).

This work also led to the discovery that intestinal Lgr5 stem cells are the cell-of-origin of colon cancer (Nature; >800 citations) and revealed Lgr5 as a potential marker of cancer stem cell populations. In 2010, Nick joined the IMB in Singapore as Senior Principle Investigator (promoted to Research Director in 2015), where he focuses on the role of Lgr5 gastric stem cells in self-renewal and cancer. He also holds the Chair of Tissue Regeneration (visiting) at the University of Edinburgh.


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

Hans Clevers has made a host of seminal discoveries in the adult stem cell field. His publication record over the last 2 decades is phenomenal.

What influenced you to pursue stem cell research?

Stem cells hold so much promise for regenerative medicine applications in the clinic and likely play an instrumental role in cancer intitation/progression in humans. I wanted to contribute to pushing stem cell research forward to a point that benefits the public.

What do you think are the main issues confronting stem cell researchers at the moment?

Decades of over-hyping stem cell promise has left the public sceptical of why so much of their tax revenue is being channelled into stem cell research.

The appearance of so many rogue companies promising breakthrough stem cell-based treatments that are completely unfounded will inevitably also erode the public’s confidence in the potential of “real” stem cell research.

Do you believe stem cells will ever be successful commercially?

Yes, but this will take decades.

What would you be if not a scientist/clinician?

A sports instructor.

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

It is incredibly competitive, so only pursue this if you are really committed.

Your company's banner could be here. Contact us.


Imperial College London, UK


Adrenergic Hypertrophic Responses in Cardio-myoctes from Human Pluripotent Cells  

The potential of pluripotent stem cell-based disease modelling is enhanced by the realisation that cardiomyocytes from human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells can be obtained with disease-specificity. One of the high priority cardiovascular disease targets is  hypertrophy because of its central role in the transition to heart failure. However, superficial similarities between human embryonic/induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and adult cardiomyocytes may mask complex differences in signalling. Human iPSC-CM are relatively unresponsive to hypertrophic signals compared to hESC-CM.

Subtle differences in signalling components appear to account for differences between hESC-CM and hiPSC-CM response, but ultimately both exhibit important deviations from the adult cardiomyocyte. This has implications for their use in drug discovery, where targets identified using pluripotent stem cell derivative may not ultimately act in the same way in adult human cardiac cells. These data raise questions regarding the hiPSC-CM as a valid model for certain aspects of cardiac disease.

Biography Lab webpage PubMed  

Gabor Foldes trained in Internal Medicine and Cardiology. He is an Assistant Professor at Heart Center, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. He has held visiting research positions at Harvard Medical School and University of Oulu, Finland. Since October 2007, he has been working at National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London where currently he serves as head of human pluripotent stem cell group. Dr Foldes’ research interests are in particular the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cardiac remodelling and heart failure.

In addition he has a long-standing interest in cardiac regeneration and continues to be involved with pluripotent stem cell characterisation projects. His recent academic and clinical awards include the European Society of Cardiology Research Grant, Hungarian Society of Cardiology Award and the British Heart Foundation Reflections of Research Award.



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

One of my fond memories is about an exhibition right in front of the London Eye few years ago. My microscopy image of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes was chosen as one of the winners of a scientific photo competition and was seen by thousands of people for a long week. The image is still used by the British Heart Foundation as a cover for stem cell brochures.

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

One of my favourite papers is on the navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers, which was published back in 2000 in PNAS. It is a combination of elegant science, London everyday life and fun.

What influenced you to pursue stem cell research?

In 2005 I received a Novartis Foundation fellowship which allowed me as a junior researcher to spend a few days in the same room with the ten most influential cardiovascular scientists that time. The meeting was followed by a four month visit in one of the participant's Professor Kenneth Chien's lab at Harvard University. His genuine interest and groundbreaking studies with pluripotent stem cells and the islet-1 cardiac progenitors gave me a real kick start to work with stem cells.

What are the main regulatory issues confronting companies trying to bring stem cell therapies into the clinic?

It seems that European regulation on this is rather strict and new cell therapy products have to go through very detailed quality control assessment. The first stem cell medicinal product received support and approval from the European Medicines Agency only a few months ago. The number of products which have the potential to be later recommended for approval in the EU is limited.

What do you think is the single most important factor driving or inhibiting a broader clinical application of stem cells?

I see a clear improvement in the available protocols which can be used to convert stem cells into clinically relevant cell products. However, these are still early days for  human pluripotent stem cells. Even though the first patients have been enrolled in first-of-man studies, our understanding about these new techniques are still very limited. We should hope that these first attempts will make no harm.

Do you believe stem cells will ever be successful commercially?

I believe this will require a longer term input from academia and new start-up cell therapy companies and at a later stage the involvement of big pharma too. At this stage, a wait-and-see attitude is still very strong from the commercial side.

What would you be if not a scientist/clinician?

As a 40th birthday gift from my wife, I received a DJ training class. You never know: so if clinics and stem cell research may not work anymore for me, I can start playing some tunes in the club scene.

From which other scientific fields would you suggest stem cell researchers could benefit the most?

It is very interesting to see new advances in stem cell related bioinformatics over the last couple of years. The parallel development of new automated systems to collect information on stem cell biology and the appropriate handling of large datasets is the best example for this synergy. Single cell analysis of gene profiles, electrophysiology or other assays would not be this successful without the new directions in bioinformatics.


© 2015 Stem Cell Society Singapore