The Ecker lab is now functioning also as the “Center of Excellence in Stem Cell Genomics” along with Michael Snyder’s lab at Stanford University. Created through a $40 million award by California’s stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the objective is to foster collaborations between California’s stem cell researchers and genomics researchers to study and find effective ways of using stem cells in medical research and therapy – “CIRM’s goal in establishing the CESCG is to apply genomics and bioinformatics approaches to stem cell research to accelerate fundamental understanding of human biology and disease mechanisms, enhance cell and tissue production and advance personalized cellular therapeutics.”
In the first phase of work, we have initiated four collaborations – (1) with Prof. Gay Crooks at UCLA to identify and overcome transcriptome barriers to generating hematopoietic stem cells from ES cells, (2) with Prof. Guoping Fan at UCLA for genomic analysis of stem cell differentiation in human overgrowth syndrome, (3) with Prof. Kelly Frazer at UCSD for population wide study of functional genomics of drug induced electrophysical phenotypes in human cardiomyocites and (4) with Prof. Benoit Bruneau at UCSF to study the epigenomics of human cardiac differentiation and congenital heart disease. Each of these projects has enormous potential and we hope to complete these projects within the next three to four years. Their direct implications in stem cell based therapy would be an important development in the history of medicine.