NUIG researchers to learn from leading stem cell expert

Leading stem cell expert Dr Alan Colman.

Leading stem cell expert Dr Alan Colman.

Researchers with the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI ) at NUI Galway are set to benefit from the vast experience and tutelage of leading stem cell expert Dr Alan Colman.

Dr Colman, a principal investigator in the A *STAR Institute of Medical Biology and executive director of the Singapore Stem Cell Consortium, has been appointed adjunct professor of fundamental stem cell biology with REMEDI.

A major focus of Dr Colman’s own work comprises neurodegenerative and premature aging diseases. His research involves developing induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS ) based laboratory models of human central nervous system diseases. The iPS cells are derived from adult fibroblasts and can be induced to have the ability to become any cell type in the body.

As adjunct professor at NUI Galway Dr Colman’s laboratory in Singapore will train researchers at REMEDI to made human induced pluripotent stem cells using as the starting material skin biopsy material or other tissues (eg, blood ) that are available from human patients and volunteers. These iPS cells share many, if not all, of the properties of human embryonic stem cells but are less controversial. The iPS cells can be made from patients suffering from most congenital diseases and can be exploited both to learn more about the disease process and to provide a virtually inexhaustible sourse of desired cell types for drug screening and discovery.

It is planned that once the researchers have been trained they will return to Ireland and, via national collaborations, will transfer the technology to other Irish researchers.

Professor Tim O’Brien, director of REMEDI, states that the appointment of Dr Colman is very important for the strategic development of stem cell biology in Ireland. “Dr Coleman has substantial experience in iPS technology and the use of patient derived stem cells to understand human disease pathophysiology. This will lead to a greater understanding of disease and thus identification of new therapies. In addition iPS technology can be used for drug screening and in the future in donor specific cell transplantation. We are delighted that Alan has agreed to take up this position and look forward to collaborative work with the Singapore Stem Cell Institute.”

Dr Colman is a graduate of Oxford University with a degree in biochemistry. He earned a PhD under John Gurdon, a pioneer in the field of nuclear transfer, at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, and has held a series of academic appointments in Oxford and Warwick universities before becoming a professor of biochemistry in the University of Birmingham.


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