Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine


Irving Weissman, MD
Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation and Cancer Research

Dr. WeissmanIrving L. Weissman, MD, has directed the Institute since its founding, providing vision and leadership to build one of the nation’s top stem cell programs. In 1988, Dr. Weissman became the first to isolate in pure form any stem cell in any species when he isolated the hematopoietic or blood-forming stem cell in mice. He subsequently isolated the human hematopoietic stem cell, the human neuronal stem cell, and the human leukemia stem cell. His work has opened up an entirely new area of scientific research with enormous potential for life-saving therapies.

Dr. Weissman recently made an exciting step toward the goal of transplanting adult stem cells to create a new immune system for people with autoimmune or genetic blood diseases. As published in the November 2007 issue of Science, his lab found a novel way to transplant new blood-forming stem cells into the bone marrow of mice without the tissue-damaging radiation or chemotherapy usually required, thereby effectively replacing their immune systems. Many aspects of this technique will need to be adapted before it can be tested in humans, but when those barriers are surmounted, the benefits could be significant. An immune system transplant, much like a liver or heart transplant, would give a person with an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis, hope for a healthy future.

Dr. Weissman received his medical degree from Stanford in 1965 and, after carrying out research in laboratories provided by the late Henry S. Kaplan, MD, joined the faculty four years later. In addition to being the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research, he is a professor of pathology and developmental biology, and, by courtesy, professor of neurosurgery and of biological sciences.

Michael T. Longaker, M.D., M.B.A., FACS
Director, Program in Regenerative Medicine
Deane P. and Louise Mitchell Professor

Michael T. Longaker, M.D., M.B.A., FACSDr. Michael T. Longaker has broad experience in pediatric plastic surgery, developmental biology, epithelial biology, tissue repair and tissue engineering.  He has extensive research experience in the cellular and molecular biology of extracellular matrix, with specific applications to the differences between fetal and post-natal wound healing, the biology of keloids and hypertrophic scars and the cellular and molecular events that surround distraction osteogenesis with respect to craniofacial development.   Most recently, his research has focused on multipotent mesenchymal cells derived from adipose tissue and their applications for tissue repair, replacement and regeneration.  He brings to Stanford his unique understanding of wound healing, fetal wound healing research, developmental biology and tissue engineering.

Dr. Longaker earned his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, (where he played varsity basketball and was a member of the 1979 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Team) and his medical degree at Harvard Medical School.  He completed his surgical residency at the University of California, San Francisco, a residency in Plastic Surgery at NYU and a craniofacial fellowship at UCLA.  The majority of his research training took place while he was a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the Fetal Treatment Program under Dr. Michael Harrison and in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Banda in Radiobiology, both at UCSF.  In December 2003, Dr. Longaker earned his MBA from University of California – Berkeley and Columbia University, in the inaugural class of their combined program.  He was elected into Beta Gamma Sigma at Columbia Business School.

Michael F. Clarke, MD
Associate Director
Karel H. and Avice N. Beekhuis Professor in Cancer Biology

Dr. ClarkeIn addition to his clinical duties in the division of Oncology, Michael F. Clarke, MD, maintains a laboratory focused on stem cells and the role they play in cancer. Dr. Clarke’s research is aimed at the identifications and characterization of cancer stem cells, and at increasing our knowledge of the factors that control self-renewal in normal stem cells and their malignant counterparts. A central issue in stem cell biology is increasing our understanding the mechanisms that regulate self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells, which are required for the renewal of the blood supply over a lifetime. Dr. Clarke’s laboratory found a key gene that regulates this process, and is now investigating how the regulatory gene itself is regulated. Dr. Clarke was the first researcher to find cancer stem cells in a solid tumor (a breast cancer) and discovered that the inhibition of programmed cell death is essential for the growth of breast cancers. He also has found certain gene activity signatures that predict whether breast cancer will recur after treatment. Dr Clarke’s research has important implications for the detection, characterization and treatment of human cancers.

After receiving his MD degree from Indiana University, Dr. Clarke was an Oncology Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. In 1986, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan where he was a Professor of Internal Medicine and a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. In the fall of 2005 Dr. Clarke will move to Stanford University where he will direct the solid tumor cancer stem cell program and serve as Deputy Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

Renee Reijo-Pera, PhD
Director, the Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Education

Dr. So-n-so Renee A. Reijo-Pera, PhD, is professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the institute’s Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Education. Her research is aimed at understanding the genetics of human embryo growth and development, and in characterizing the basic properties of human embryonic stem cells, especially their ability to generate pluripotent stem cells, somatic cells and germ cells. Her early work resulted in identification of one of the first genes specifically implicated in human germ cell development.  Subsequently her laboratory has established techniques for differentiation of human embryonic stem cells to germ cells and genetic manipulation of the pathways.

Dr. Reijo-Pera has received numerous awards throughout her career and was cited as one of twenty influential women in the US by Newsweek magazine.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin (Superior), her doctoral degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and her postdoctoral training at the Whitehead Institute for BioMedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Before coming to Stanford, she was the co-director of the Program in Human Stem Cell Biology at the University of California, San Francisco.


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