CRM was established in 2008 with the aim to gain fundamental understanding of stem cells and regeneration and to use this knowledge to improve human health. We also provide leadership in training and public engagement.
Research highlights of 2015 included
- The identification of genes that might stop the onset of leukaemia by Prof Kamil Kranc and his laboratory team (Journal of Experimental Medicine; Press release).
- A study into the genetic make-up of 25 ‘clinical grade’ stem cell lines by Dr Tilo Kunath and his team. All lines showed normal genetic variation in line with human diversity and are therefore suitable for use in emerging regenerative medicine treatments (Scientific Reports; Press release).
- The discovery by Prof Stuart Forbes and his team that patients with bile duct cancer could be helped by a new class of experimental drugs that block the Wnt pathway (Journal of Clinical Investigation; Press release). Prof Forbes and his team also successfully regenerated a damaged liver in a mouse by transplanting stem cells grown in the laboratory (Nature Cell Biology; Press release).
Summary of 2015
- We published 65 scientific papers (average impact factor 8.9) of which 18 in high impact 4* journals including The Lancet (1), Science (1), Cell Stem Cell (3), Nature Cell Biology (1), Gut (1), Gastroenterology (2), Journal of Experimental Medicine (2), Journal of Clinical Investigation (1), Hepatology (1), Nature Communications (3), and the Journal of Hepatology (2). Full list of 2015 publications.
- Prof Stuart Forbes was appointed as CRM’s new Director in November, taking up the baton from Prof Charles ffrench-Constant (2012-2015) and Prof Sir Ian Wilmut (2008-2012). In addition Prof Dónal O’Carroll, who moved from EMBL Monterotondo in Italy to CRM in 2015, became CRM’s new Associate Director. News story.
- CRM successfully raised £23M from funding applications in 2015. We made successful research applications to a total value of £10.3M, of which £1.2M was awarded by charities (including Children with Cancer, Bloodwise, Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund, and the European Leukodystrophy Association), £2.0M by the European Commission, £4.3M by the Medical Research Council, and £2.0M by the Wellcome Trust. Key applications included a £4M MRC Fellowship Award for Dr Keisuke Kaji for a seven year project ‘Genome-wide exploration of reprogramming mechanisms using CRISPR/Cas9 and DamID technologies’ (News story) and £2M WT funding for Prof Dónal O’Carroll to investigate the RNA regulation and modification in tissue development and homeostasis.
- In addition to the £10.3M funding for research, CRM Director Prof Stuart Forbes successfully led the bid to establish a new Wellcome Trust funded ‘Tissue Repair’ PhD programme at the University of Edinburgh (Press release) and together with Prof Charles ffrench-Constant played a key role in securing £10.7M from the UK Government (UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) to establish a new Centre for Tissue Repair (Press release). The new Centre is currently in the design phase with an expected completion date of late 2018. Prof Charles ffrench-Constant and Prof Siddharthan Chandran successfully secured £2M funding from the MS Society to support the Edinburgh Centre for MS Research hub, a virtual team of approximately 15 researchers based at The University of Edinburgh (News story).
- We continued to successfully run our PhD program in stem cells and regenerative medicine. In September we welcomed 18 new PhD students (News story), we currently have 59 PhD students based at the CRM. In addition, 18 students were awarded their PhD. Congratulations to Michael Williams, Frederick Wong, Yali Huang, Nicola Drummond, Yiding Zhao, Katheryn Anderson, Woranup Sukparangsi, Daria Paruzina, Sara Brightwell, Rastuda Yapom, Balta Villarin Lucendo, Tyson Reutz, Maria Kydonaki, Harsh Vaidya, Javier Lendinez, Dagmara Szkolnicka, Antoniana Batsivari, and Harry Bulstrode. One of our post-docs, Dr Anestis Tsakiridis, obtained an independent position as junior group leader at the Centre for Stem Cell Biology in Sheffield (Testimonial). We wish Anestis well as he sets up his own research team. More about our MSc , PhD and Postdoc programmes.
- Three senior researchers received external recognition for their contributions to science. Prof Clare Blackburn and Prof Ian Chambers were elected Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Prof Kamil Kranc was awarded the Stem Cells Young Investigator Award for his paper "Acute loss of Cited2 impairs Nanog expression and decreases self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem cells". Our PhD students Chen Zhao and Alison McGarvey excelled too. Chen won the University of Edinburgh’s annual 3 Minute Thesis Competition with her entry ‘Astrocyte: the Star of Motor Neuron Disease’ and Alison won The Wilmut Prize, an internal award for the best final PhD student.
- Our research was discussed in main stream and high profile media channels, including the BBC, STV, The Guardian and The Economist. One of our studies even trended on Facebook, something that doesn't happen often for scientific stories (Press release). Some examples can be found on our ScoopIt page.
- We further strengthened our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Average tweet impressions per month increased by 248% and our Facebook follower numbers more than doubled (236%) compared to 2014. We also collaborated with other online partners to increase awareness of stem cell research, for example by taking part in the ISSCR’s #AStemCellScientistBecause Twitter campaign (by a team of @DrSkelfie scientists at CRM; Summary on Storify by EuroStemCell).
- In addition to contributing to the European project EuroStemCell.org, CRM researchers (co-)organised and/or took part in 16 public engagement events, all aimed at providing face-to-face opportunities for anyone interested in stem cells and regenerative medicine. Activities included the development of stem cell dances for the Science Ceilidh Band, a ‘Regeneration’ themed series of Filmosophy events at the Edinburgh Filmhouse, taking part in the Edinburgh International Science Festival and the Greenman Festival in Wales (Images on Flickr) and, in partnership with SSERC, providing in-house CPD training for secondary school biology teachers.