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Interview with Clare Blackburn and Val Wilson, co-chairs of our Origins of Tissue Stem Cells meeting

Clare Blackburn Val Wilson

Abcam are pleased to present this exciting two day meeting on the 'Origins of Tissue Stem Cells' which will be taking place on June 28-29, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. This meeting will focus on how and when self-renewing tissue stem cells arise during embryonic development. We will discuss common features between different stem cell lineages, and examine how modelling can inform in vivo studies.

We've recently caught up with meeting chairs Clare Blackburn and Val Wilson to get their thoughts on this upcoming meeting.


"The meeting is very timely due to recent advances in multiple systems, and therefore we wanted to bring together scientists working in these areas in order to promote discussion and catalyse progress."
— Clare Blackburn

Q. Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds. What research are your labs currently working on?

Both of us are stem cell biologists working at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh.

Clare Blackburn:

I work on the generation and regeneration of the thymus, with a particular focus on fetal and adult thymic epithelial progenitor/stem cells. The overarching aim of my work is to develop new cell replacement or regenerative strategies for boosting thymus function in patients and in the elderly.

Val Wilson:

I work on the emergence, maintenance and disappearance of a newly defined stem cell type - the neuromesodermal stem cell - that exists only in the embryo and generates the spinal cord and musculoskeleton.

Q. What were your motivations to organize a conference on the Origins of Tissue Stem Cells?

The meeting is very timely due to recent advances in multiple systems, and therefore we wanted to bring together scientists working in these areas in order to promote discussion and catalyse progress.

Q. We have a line up of speakers and topics. What do think makes this meeting stand apart from other related meetings and who do you think would be most interested in this meeting?

This meeting covers an important area that is often neglected in larger meetings on stem cell research. Understanding the mechanisms leading to stem cell generation in vivo are fundamental to understanding the stem cell niche, and therefore maintenance and manipulation of stem cells in vivo and in vitro, and is particularly relevant for stem cell and developmental biologists. It has a great line-up ranging from some of the top established names in the field to the emerging stars of the future.

Q. You both work and live in Edinburgh. What can you say are the best things/highlights of Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is one of Europe's great cities, full of history and culture. It also offers fantastic restaurants and is home to the Scottish Malt Whisky Society. Come and visit before you need a passport!

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