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Environmental Factor, June 2012

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Cell Biology Group fellow wins travel award

By Eddy Ball

Fumin Lin, Ph.D.

Travel award winner Lin joined NIEHS last year to work on the diabetes stem cell project. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Anton Jetten, Ph.D.

In 2011, Jetten received an award of NIH Common Fund money through the NIH CRM (see story) to support his group’s research. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS visiting fellow Fumin Lin, Ph.D., has won a $1,000 travel award for research he presented at the NIH Stem Cell Research Symposium May 10-11 in Bethesda, Md. Fumin, who is a member of the Cell Biology Group headed by Anton Jetten, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Respiratory Biology, will be able to use his award to attend a stem cell meeting of his choice.

The NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH CRM) and Stem Cell Interest Group (SCIG) co-sponsored the symposium, which highlighted NIH intramural stem cell research projects, with a focus on NIH CRM-funded investigators. Jetten’s group is one of three at NIEHS headed by lead researchers who are affiliated faculty with the NIH CRM.

The award-winning research is part of work in the Jetten group on the role of transcriptional regulator Gli-similar (Glis) 1-3 proteins in the generation of pancreatic beta cells, as part of the development of an innovative therapy for the treatment of patients with diabetes, which currently affects approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population.

Lin and Jetten successfully induced differentiation of human adipose-derived stem cells, human embryonic stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells into pancreatic endocrine cells. Their results suggest that Glis3 plays an important role in the differentiation of stem cells into beta cells, and upregulating expression of Glis3 might benefit cell replacement therapy against diabetes, offering an alternative treatment to insulin therapy, which does not prevent long-term complications from the disease.

Presentations at the symposium covered embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and various types of adult stem cells. Additionally, there was a focus on determining the roadblocks to clinical translation of stem cells for cell therapies and screening small molecules.

Keynote speakers were NIH CRM Director Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., and SCIG steering committee co-chair Manfred Boehm, M.D., head of the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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