Robert Robbins, MD, Helps Boost Interest in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine


On Wednesday, May 30th the Stanford University Medical Center hosted a program entitled “Harnessing the Power of Stem Cells: A New Medical Frontier” that was attended by over 200 members of the community. There is no question that stem cell biology and regenerative medicine are now regarded as one of the most exciting – and controversial – areas of biomedical research. Stanford has been in the forefront of this effort and has made great strides since the formation of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, which is led by Dr. Irv Weissman, Virginia and DK Ludwig Professor. It is particularly exciting to witness the number of outstanding Stanford faculty who are engaged in stem cell research across a broad array of biological processes and disease states – a number of whom spoke at this highly successful event.

In addition to the keynote address by Dr. Weissman, some of the most challenging and exciting areas of investigation were presented by a highly diversified and outstanding faculty group from across the university, including:

  • Embryonic Stem Cells: Hank Greely, Deane F and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law and Renee Pera, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Cancer: Mike Clarke, Karel H and Avice N. Beekhuis Professor in Cancer Biology and Steve Quake, Professor of Bioengineering
  • Autoimmunity: Seung Kim, Associate Professor of Developmental Biology and Judy Shizuru, Associate Professor of Medicine
  • Tissue Regeneration: Mike Longaker, Deane P and Louise Mitchell Professor in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Heart Disease: Robert Robbins, Professor and Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and Joe Wu, Assistant Professor of Radiology and of Medicine
  • Neurological Diseases: Theo Palmer, Associate Professor Neurosurgery and Gary Steinberg, Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery and Neurosciences

Particularly exciting is the fact that more than half of these faculty have joined Stanford since the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute efforts began in earnest. Equally important are the breadth of scholarship and the inclusion of interdisciplinary skills and backgrounds that forge new opportunities for discovery and that, in time, will translate those discoveries to improvements in the lives of adults and children. It is also important to note that this group is only a small portion of the Stanford faculty now studying stem cell biology - many of whom now benefit from the funds being provided by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. We can look forward to the enhancement and enrichment of those efforts in the years ahead. And while we must be careful not to over promise as to when discoveries will impact human disease I am confident that this will happen and that Stanford will be a leader in transforming this important new field of medicine and science.

(Source: The Dean's Newsletter: June 4, 2007)