Health Science Lecture Series

The Taubman Institute boosts educational outreach by sponsoring Health Science Lecture Series

Dr. Eva Feldman to deliver update on ALS stem cell trial at fall event

Ann Arbor ­– The Health Science Lecture Series will present Dr. Eva L. Feldman, director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute and principal investigator of the first FDA-approved trial of a stem cell therapy for ALS, at its fall event on Oct. 2.

The trial is being watched with enormous interest worldwide, because more than 75 years after the disease was nicknamed for baseball great Lou Gehrig, who succumbed to ALS, physicians still have little to offer in the way of therapy, let alone cure. Dr. Feldman and her team believe that stem cells may offer hope to the tens of thousands of ALS patients worldwide who currently have no treatment options.

Dr. Feldman, the Russell N. DeJong professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School, designed the trial, which in its first phase safely treated 15 patients with the surgical implantation of specially engineered stem cells directly to their spinal cords. The theory is that these stem cells will nourish and protect the motor neurons that die in patients with ALS; post-operative evaluations have shown that a handful of patients from the Phase 1 surgeries have experienced a remarkable stabilization of their disease process more than two years after surgery.

“ALS is a disease that kills most of its victims within three to five years of diagnosis, so to have patients stabilize for years is incredibly encouraging,” said Dr. Feldman, whose research has been cited in national and international scientific publications and general media. She will present details about the Phase 1 findings, and an update on the Phase 2 round of surgeries that is taking place this fall at U-M, during the Health Science Lecture. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Date: Oct. 2, 2013

Time: 6-7 p.m.

Topic:  “A stem cell trial for ALS”

 Location:  D. Dan & Betty Kahn Auditorium  of the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building - Click here for a map and directions

Admission: The program is free and open to the public.

Upcoming Health Science Lectures include:

Feb. 5, 2014: Steven Kunkel, Ph.D., senior vice president of research at the U-M Medical School

March 22, 2014: Parag Patil, M.D., Ph.D., the U-M Medical School neurosurgeon who is performing the ALS stem cell operations in Ann Arbor

The Health Science Lecture Series is sponsored by the Taubman Institute, the Program in Biology and a number of student organizations. The lectures will be held quarterly on the U-M campus and will focus on a wide variety of topics including medical research, public health, bioethics, evolutionary biology, epidemiology and many others.

The first Health Science Lecture, held in the spring, featured  Dr. Max Wicha, a Taubman Institute Senior Scholar and the founding director of the U-M Health System’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. As leader of the team that first discovered cancer stem cells in a human solid tumor, Dr. Wicha is a world-renowned expert in the potential of treating virtually any cancer type by targeting these early tumor cells.

“I was delighted to help kick off this lecture series,” said Dr. Wicha.  “Engaging students and the general public in the exciting advances taking place in medical science today is crucial to our role as an education institution.  I hope that by explaining how we go about making remarkable discoveries in our laboratories, we’ll inspire more people to choose a career in medical science or join in supporting life-saving research.” 



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