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Susan Bryant Speaks on Regeneration Research

Dean of Biological Sciences Susan V. Bryant spoke to a standing-room-only audience in Langson Library on March 17 th on “Regeneration, Rejuvenation, and Stem Cells.” Her appearance was timely due to her recent appointment to California’s stem cell initiative oversight committee.

Dean Bryant gained an international reputation for her own research when she pioneered the development of molecular techniques for studying regeneration. For nearly four decades she has studied the Mexican axolotl salamander, the only vertebrate that can regenerate, by analyzing how it perfectly reproduces a missing limb in about four weeks. Bryant's research identifies the molecular patterns that trigger this re-growth of limbs. By understanding the sequence of events that lead to regeneration, her work may ultimately facilitate new therapies for replacing and repairing lost, damaged, or diseased parts of the human body.

“The salamander makes stem cells to generate a new limb,” Bryant says. “If we could harness that ability, the debate about stem cells would be eliminated. All you would have to do is give a shot of whatever the stimulus agent is, at the site you want to regenerate, and the person’s body would create the stem cells.”

The relevance of Bryant’s own work to stem cell research help make her an ideal representative for UCI on the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, established by Proposition 71 to govern the activities of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Proposition 71 authorizes $300 million per year for ten years to fund stem cell research and facilities in the state. The Institute’s funding capabilities and the resulting research are expected to have a significant positive impact on California’s economy in the coming years.

“It is exciting to be in a position to fund research that holds tremendous promise for people with debilitating diseases,” Bryant told the audience. “This initiative is not promising instant cures, but it is promising an instant research focus on the capabilities of stem cells. Treatments for intolerable diseases are closer to reality as more research on stem cells takes place.”

For additional information about the Libraries Speakers Series, please contact Julie Sully, Associate Director of Development (jsully@uci.edu or x44658).

 

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