To achieve the full potential of stem cells in clinical practice, several critical challenges need to be addressed. These include: (1) deriving, maintaining and selectively differentiating embryonic and adult stem cells and reprogrammed pluripotent cells; (2) recreating the temporal and spatial environment encountered in developing and adult tissues; and (3) understanding the relevance of fundamental processes governing the control of stem cells to diseases such as cancer. Cornell University is well-positioned to contribute to these areas of stem cell research, because the scientific interests and expertise of its current investigators relate to these critical problems.
- Deriving, maintaining and selectively differentiating embryonic and adult stem cells and reprogrammed pluripotent cells. The Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine provides access to several appropriate models, offering unique opportunities for comparative studies and development of the preclinical model systems. Cornell investigators (e.g., Drs. Fischbach, Fortier, Kotlikoff, Lis, Nikitin, Travis, Schimenti and Tumbar) work with mouse, canine, equine and human stem cells.
- Recreating the temporal and spatial environment encountered in developing and adult tissues. Cornell is well recognized for its strong basic biology environment, and the University commitment to biomedical research has been further re-inforced by the new Cornell Life Science Initiative, which is designed to advance multidisciplinary discovery and training in the modern genomics era. To provide the appropriate basis for understanding how stem cells are able to regenerate, repair tissues, or deliver therapeutic agents, Cornell stem cell biologists focus on basic mechanisms regulating embryonic stem cells (e.g., Dr. Lis) and controlling development and renewal of tissue stem cells in different organs such as the prostate and mammary gland (e.g., Dr. Nikitin), brain (e.g., Dr. Fischbach), connective tissue (e.g., Drs. Fortier and Nikitin), skin and hair follicles (e.g., Dr. Tumbar), and testis (e.g., Drs. Travis and Schimenti). Cornell scientists (e.g., Dr. Fischbach) are also designing tissue-engineered model systems and polymeric growth factor delivery strategies geared to understand normal and deregulated human stem cells. This research is driven by technological innovations, and interface of biomedical sciences with other disciplines, such Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Bioengineering and Nanotechnology represents an essential ingredient for its success.
- Understanding the relevance of fundamental processes governing the control of stem cells to diseases such as cancer. This area of research is of critical importance due to potential implications for therapeutic transplantation approaches and possible connections between normal stem cells, defective stem cells, and cancer stem cells. Cornell stem cell researchers with interests in cancer stem cells are closely interacting with Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research, which was established to enhance cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment through a combination of basic and clinical research efforts at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. Stem cell disease-related projects include understanding roles of common tumor suppressor genes in biology of stem cells (e.g., Dr. Nikitin), effects of retinoic acid on uncommitted precursor cells (e.g., Dr. Yen), niche effects on maintenance and proliferation of normal and cancer stem cells (e.g., Dr. Fischbach), and infertility due to defective proliferation of germ cells (e.g., Dr. Schimenti).
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight (ESCRO) at Cornell is provided by the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA).