CONNECT, in partnership with The San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SDCRM), The Science Network, BIOCOM, and lead sponsor Invitrogen, celebrated the third annual Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa symposium on Friday, Nov. 7 at the Salk Institute in La Jolla.

More than 400 researchers, policy makers, industry representatives, entrepreneurs, students and patients assembled to assess the current progression of stem cells research, with a collaborative discussion among medical professionals, academia and companies about the future of the field.

This year's program brought together international thought leaders from cutting-edge stem cells research institutions including Harvard, UC San Diego, Stanford, UCLA Medical Schools, along with many others, to focus on four specific disease areas: cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, diabetes and cancer, and the scientific, ethical and business challenges they face.

Keynote speaker Kenneth Chien, M.D., Ph.D., of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and former UCSD researcher, is an internationally recognized biologist specializing in cardiovascular science. Dr. Chien spoke about his pioneering development in new therapeutic strategies to prevent the onset and progression of heart failure.

"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in the U.S., and is a growing global health problem in developing nations. In the U.S. alone, approximately 71 million people are affected by coronary heart disease, which costs society billions of dollars annually," said Dr. Chien. "Collaboration amongst researchers and institutions across the field has led us to amazing discoveries, which are helping us bring progress out of the research stage and in to treatment in human patients."

The San Diego region is a powerhouse of stem cell research, leading California in grants and funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). CIRM is the largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research in the world. The CIRM creates grants and provides loans that facilitate research, staffing and other vital research opportunities. Since its inception in 2004, the CIRM has awarded more than $614 million of direct funding towards the advancement of stem cell research.

"Major pharma companies are moving into the stem cell field and taking a very strong supportive position," said Alan Trounson, Ph. D., president of CIRM. "There have been tremendous advances toward human embryonic stem cell therapy, and the cohesive organization among scientists at research institutions and companies is going to really accelerate our progress."

San Diego County is ranked among the top three biotech and life science clusters in the United States, and draws hundreds of millions in venture capital funding annually. Since last year's meeting, stem cell research has made strides in research and funding, and with Presidential-elect Obama's pledged support for stem cell research, the advancement of research has the potential to accelerate with greater force.

"This symposium drew together incredibly well-respected and world-renowned pioneers from all over the country, to collaborate in San Diego," said Duane Roth, Board Member CIRM, and CEO of CONNECT. "San Diego's biotechnology, life sciences and entrepreneurial reputation have positioned the city as an up and coming stem cell research hub, and as a leader for the future of the industry."

Sponsors that made this cutting-edge symposium possible include Invitrogen, Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, BioMed Realty Trust, Inc., Stemgent, Applied Molecular Evolition, Histogen, Agilent Laboratories, Molecular Diagnostic Service, Pfizer and The Waitt Family Foundation.

For more information about this and other CONNECT events, please visit CONNECT.


CONNECT is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating and sustaining the growth of innovative technology and life science businesses in San Diego. Each year CONNECT delivers more than 300 programs and services that benefit more than 2,000 CEOs and companies. CONNECT is widely regarded as the nation's most successful regional program linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success. Its programs include: Springboard, Venture Round Table, Frontiers in Science and Technology, FrameWorks, CEO Strategy Forum and Connect with CONNECT; new industry cluster development; affiliate programs with The Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology (CCAT), Tech Coast Angels (TCA), and MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF); and its awards and recognition programs, Hall of Fame, and The Most Innovative Products (MIP) Awards.


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