Since this is an inaugural blog, I would like to first introduce myself, Randal Berg, MBA, PhD as the current Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at the UCI Stem Cell Research Center (SCRC). I am excited to have joined a team filled with passionate scientists and staff members who are working tirelessly to find treatments and cures for some of the most devastating diseases of our time. My administrative team and I are here to facilitate all aspects of the research programs at our center and to ensure that our community is aware of our work, goals, and successes. We’re excited to share the inspiring stories of our researchers and advocates. That being said I wanted to take this opportunity to touch upon our upcoming events and important developments at SCRC.
In regards to our community engagement and outreach efforts we have an ongoing Art of Stem Cells exhibit at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) in Santa Ana. Our opening night reception (view the photos)was held on Saturday, September 6, and was attended by over 2,000 people.The exhibit runs until October 10, with a second open house to feature appearances by the artists and our stem cell researchers that will coincide with the Santa Ana Community Art Walk on Saturday, October 4. Shortly after that, we will be celebrating Stem Cell Awareness Day with open house tours of the Center on October 8. Day 1 will conclude with an open forum and discussion with the new California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) President, Dr. C. Randal Mills. We expect Dr. Mills to reiterate his vision for CIRM that includes a renewed focus on translation of our best research into clinical applications. Day 2 (October 9) features a scientific symposium headed by keynote speakers Don Kohn from UCLA and Phil Horner from University of Washington, as well as oral and poster presentations from our UC Irvine scientists and trainees.
On the topics of CIRM and clinical application of stem cell research is a recent item of interest highlighted on the CIRM website. We were very excited to learn of the FDA approval and CIRM funding of a clinical trial designed to test the safety and efficacy of stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in patients with spinal cord injury. This is an updated version of the world’s first stem cell trial, which was based on the work of our former co-director and faculty member, Dr. Hans Kierstead. The new trial is expected to begin enrolling patients early next year.
We are also eagerly anticipating the results of the recent CIRM review of pending grants that will fund up to 5 “alpha stem cell clinics” across the state. These grants will support infrastructure and personnel to establish policies and procedures that will facilitate the next wave of clinical trials in California. As our teams of researchers work their stem cell therapies through the clinical development pathway including FDA approvals, they will look to these alpha clinics for critical support in planning and implementing the early clinical trials. Pending trials currently being developed here at the SCRC include studies designed to test stem cell-derived therapies for retinitis pigmentosa, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke.
Check back soon for more on these topics and others in upcoming blog entries…
Randal Berg, MBA,PhD has worked in Research Development at UC Irvine for the past 5 years. Prior to that, his academic training, experience and background was in development of experimental cancer therapeutics. His PhD is in biochemistry and molecular biology, and his academic career includes teaching and running a research lab for almost 10 years. Like all of the scientists here at SCRC, he has a passion for learning, discovery and application of new findings to improve the lives of people suffering from devastating diseases.
Randal Berg, MBA, PhD
Chief Administrative Officer
Stem Cell Research Center
Sue & Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute
845 Health Sciences Road
Irvine, CA 92697-1705