UC Irvine Neuroscientist Hans Keirstead, Ph.D.: Stem Cell Research in Spinal Cord Injuries

Hans Keirstead, Ph.D. discusses the potential of stem cells and his efforts to develop new therapies for the more than 1.3 million Americans suffering from spinal cord injuries.

Hans Keirstead will be presenting at the Working 2 Walk 2012 Science and Advocacy Symposium.

Organization: University of California at Irvine, California Stem Cell, Inc.

An internationally known stem cell expert, Hans Keirstead has pioneered a number of efforts in the field. He led his team of researchers to successfully develop a stem cell-based treatment for paralyzed rats. This treatment marked the first such stem cell-based clinical trial ever approved by a regulatory body, worldwide. Dr. Keirstead also helped develop a therapy for the treatment of ulcerative collitis and rheumatoid arthritis, that has successfully met primary endpoints in Phase II clinical trials. He developed a stem cell-based therapy for the motor neuron diseases ALS and spinal muscular atrophy that will soon enter clinical testing, and made headlines for creating a 3D retina derived from stem cells for the treatment of retinal diseases. More recently, he has taken on a stem cell-based project for late stage cancers, a technology that has met primary endpoints in Phase II clinical trials.

The Canadian-born neuroscientist received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His Ph.D. thesis formed the basis of several worldwide patents, the formation of a company, and constituted the first demonstration of functional regeneration of the injured adult spinal cord. For his achievements he received the Cameron Award for the best Ph.D. thesis in Canada.

Dr. Keirstead then moved to Cambridge England, where he conducted 4 years of Post-Doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge, with both Canadian and British Fellowships. He received the distinct honor of election to two senior academic posts, Fellow of the Governing Body of Downing College, and Senate Member of the University of Cambridge, and was the youngest member to have been elected to those positions.

In 2000, Dr. Keirstead joined the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California, Irvine. He then Founded the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, and is now Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Dr. Keirstead was awarded the Distinguished Award for Research, the UCI Academic Senate’s highest honor, as well as the UCI Innovation Award for innovative research leading to corporate and clinical development.

He has founded or partnered with biotechnology companies to fund and conduct pre-clinical and clinical development, most recently, California Stem Cell Inc. California Stem Cell is developing stem cell based therapies for several metastatic cancers, as well as the motor neuron diseases SMA and ALS.

Dr. Keirstead has testified at Federal and California Senate Hearings on several occasions, is an avid scientific correspondent for public education, is on the Editorial Board of several major journals, advised the California government on stem cell policy, was a Scientific Advisory Committee Member of the California Stem Cell Initiative that authored Proposition 71, which resulted in a US$3B stem cell fund, and maintains working relationships with several stem cell companies, venture capital groups, and government economic development offices worldwide. Dr. Keirstead is also Founder of several clinics and educational centers in Guinea, Africa, which focus on health and community development in rural Africa.

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