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UIC launches Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine



The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine will launch a new center focused on understanding tissue regeneration and pioneering future developments in stem cell biology as a means to repair diseased organs and tissues.

Researchers in the University of Illinois Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine will investigate the molecular signals that drive stem cells to mature into different cell types, such as blood, heart and blood vessel cells. The center will also study the epigenetic regulation of stem cells; determine the best approaches to transplant engineered cells, tissues and organs; and look for ways to efficiently produce the regenerative cells needed for novel treatments.

Asrar Malik, Ph.D., professor and head of pharmacology in the UIC College of Medicine, is guiding the effort. A search is under way to recruit a director and additional faculty members, he said.

The current program in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine already includes seven faculty members, most within the department of pharmacology, who together have more than $10 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Malik said that the “intent in the next few years will be to carry out additional recruitments with other departments, to build from this interdisciplinary foundation and capitalize on our strengths.”

Three new faculty members have joined the center in the last two years. Owen Tamplin studies stem cells in zebrafish; Kostandin Pajcini investigates the role of stem cells in the development of leukemia; and Jae-Won Shin engineers stem cells and tissues with an eye towards transplantation.

This will be the only dedicated stem cell and regenerative medicine center in Chicago with a focus on basic biology and translational science, according to Malik.

The opening of the center will be commemorated with a June 12.

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