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Hans Keirstead to brief Congress on stem cell research


UCI scientist is behind the field’s first human clinical trial

Irvine, Calif., UC Irvine’s Hans Keirstead – the neurobiologist behind what will be the world’s first human embryonic stem cell clinical trial – will brief Congress on the state of the field 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 24, in Washington, D.C.

Keirstead will join Robert Klein, a spinal-cord-injury research advocate, and Thomas Okarma, Geron Corp. president and chief executive officer, for the briefing, in Room H-122 of the Capitol. Geron will conduct the clinical trial for Keirstead’s acute-spinal-cord-injury therapy.

Keirstead will discuss that treatment, recently approved for human clinical testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and other stem cell therapies in development. He also will stress the need for collaboration between academia and industry.

“This union is critical to moving new therapies from the laboratory to the clinic,” said Keirstead, co-director of UCI’s Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and faculty member at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which seeks new treatments for spinal-cord injuries. In addition, Keirstead plans to meet one-on-one with policy- and lawmakers during his trip.

Former Rep. James C. Greenwood, R-Pa., will moderate the briefing, titled “Expanding Stem Cell Research: Finding Cures and Changing Lives.” Greenwood is president and chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the world’s largest biotechnology group.

Earlier this month, President Obama lifted federal funding restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research, clearing the way for additional money to flow to this fast-growing field, which one day could produce a treatment or cure for people with cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, or other life-threatening disorders.

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