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Muscle cells grown from hES cells in Masatoshi Suzuki's lab

Stem Cells @20 UW-Madison

In 1998, UW–Madison developmental biologist James Thomson introduced the world to the first laboratory-derived human embryonic stem cells. His lab’s accomplishment underpins the new field of regenerative medicine, and the all-purpose cells are used worldwide to test drugs, develop treatments for diseases and further our understanding of basic human biology. Twenty years later, UW–Madison remains at the forefront, an internationally recognized leader in stem cell research.

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SCRMC Updates

  • quote rail -stem cells: What research leaders are saying about Jamie Thomson’s stem cell discoveries

    “When Jamie’s work came out, it literally changed the world and how we envision taking what we do from a petri dish to a patient.” – Gordon Keller, senior scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN-Toronto

  • Creating brain and nerve cells to propel drug treatments for disease

    SCRMC member Su-Chun Zhang, professor of neuroscience, writes: As a researcher studying how brain cells might treat disorders like multiple sclerosis, I first approached Jamie Thomson in the late 1990s because I knew he was experimenting with stem cells from monkeys and I wanted to understand his work. When I learned he had figured out how to derive human embryonic stem cells, we began to collaborate on how to guide human stem cells to brain cells.

  • Research excellence: Stem cell collaboration fuels sustained leadership

    SCRMC Director Timothy Kamp writes: When UW-Madison researcher Jamie Thomson discovered human embryonic stem cells in the late 1990s, the university instantly vaulted to the forefront of this exciting new technology. What has been almost as impressive to me is how the university has managed that success and maintained its position as a world leader.

  • A starring role for nonhuman primates in the stem cell story

    When Jamie Thomson addressed an audience at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery in April, he emphasized the important role that nonhuman primates played in his groundbreaking research. Thomson, who today serves as director of regenerative biology at the Morgridge Institute for Research, explained that he came to UW–Madison in 1991, in large part because it housed the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. The facility is part of the National Primate Research Centers funded by the National Institutes of Health.

  • Navigating the controversy ignited by the 1998 stem cell discovery

    It was December 1998, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation had just been issued a patent based on Jamie Thomson’s work on embryonic stem cells. This was a continuation of his patent filed in 1995 for deriving stem cells from primates. I got a phone call from the general counsel of the National Institutes of Health, who had been summoned to testify at the U.S. Senate about the patent.

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James Thomson TIME magazine cover August 2001
James Thomson TIME magazine cover August 2001

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