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March 11, 2021

CiRA and Gladstone Institutes hold a symposium on iPS cell research

It has been more than a year since the Gladstone Institutes joined Kyoto University's On-site Laboratory initiative by opening "iPS Cell Research Center at Gladstone Institutes" in San Francisco. The COVID-19 pandemic has setback a few milestones of this collaborative project, including a kickoff symposium, which finally happened virtually on February 9.

Following the opening remarks by Deepak Srivastava, President of the Gladstone Institutes, Kyoto University President Nagahiro Minato gave a congratulatory address, speaking "I truly hope that it will contribute to human health and welfare across national borders in tight collaboration with the scientists of the Gladstone Institutes."

The four speakers of the science talks were CiRA Director and Gladstone Institutes Senior Investigator Shinya Yamanaka, CiRA Junior Associate Professor and newest faculty member Kazuo Takayama, Gladstone Institutes Senior Investigator Todd McDevitt, and Dr. Kiichiro Tomoda, CiRA Associate Professor and Gladstone Institute Research Investigator, who is exclusively engaged in the on-site lab, iPS Cell Research Center at Gladstone Institutes.

The four talks were split into two sessions, "Leveraging iPS Cells" and "Latest Studies on COVID-19." In the first session, Yamanaka spoke about his pluripotency research including his discovery of the NAT1 gene while working at the Gladstone Institutes in the 1990s. "This finding led to the discovery of iPS cells 10 years later," he said during his talk. He then went on to explain how CiRA is using iPS cells to study how SARS-CoV2 infects different cells of the human body. In his talk, Tomoda elaborated on the importance of NAT1 in cell pluripotency and differentiation, introducing their work at the on-site lab.

While the iPS Cell Research Center at Gladstone Institutes is designed to explore several research topics related to iPS cells, because of the current global environment, the symposium also devoted some of its time to the application of iPS cells to the study of SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. In the second session, McDevitt and Takayama shared their research on how SARS-CoV2 infecting cardiac and bronchial cells, respectively, since heart and lung failure are two primary mortal risks of the disease.

Benoit Bruneau, Director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, and Shinya Yamanaka closed the symposium with their remarks, emphasizing the importance of the iPS Cell Research Center at Gladstone Institutes and overall partnership between Gladstone and CiRA.

The entire symposium can be seen here.

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