By Cristy Lytal
A pair of young scientists picked up a piece of driftwood and thoughtfully traced a series of letters in the wet sand of Ventura Beach. The word “microglia”—referring to the immune cells of the central nervous system—gleamed in the afternoon sun before being obliterated by the next ocean wave. All around them, PhD students, postdocs, faculty, and staff members enjoyed surf, sand, and science at the annual retreat for the USC Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, held from November 16–18 in Ventura, California.
In addition to beach volleyball, frisbee, and drawing and trivia competitions, the retreat featured an impressive lineup of scientific talks, panels, and posters.
During the keynote address, Professor Dennis Clegg from the University of California, Santa Barbara, shared his success in using stem cells to make a cell type that supports the health of the retina. These cells, known as retinal pigment epithelial cells, form the basis for ongoing clinical trials of a new treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. The project brings together a team of scientists, surgeons, engineers, and industry partners from USC, City of Hope, Caltech, and Regenerative Patch Technologies with funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). (…Read More)