Professor Christine Mummery, one of the world's leading heart stem cell experts, honoured the memory of Dame Anne McLaren in the keynote lecture of the inaugural UK National Stem Cell Network Science Meeting in Edinburgh. Dr McLaren was an early pioneer of the study of embryonic germ cells and her research directly contributed to the development of IVF treatments and stem cell techniques.

Prof Mummery from the Netherlands is a leading expert in the study of cardiomyocytes - the beating cells of the heart - most particularly those derived from stem cells. She informed the delegates at the UKNSCN conference that Dr McLaren was a leading figure in guiding the stem cell research community in learning the language and ethics of working with early human embryos in research. She said that the UK regulations, which have allowed the country to take a strong lead in stem cell research, are in part due to Dr McLaren's thoughtful input to the various committees that first examined the laws needed to govern IVF treatment.

Speaking ahead of her lecture, Prof Mummery said: "Anne McLaren was one of the most thoughtful and sensitive stem cell scientists the scientific community has seen. Her views not only influenced the direction of UK regulation of the field - which has helped thousands of couples through IVF treatment - but also scientists considering ethical and regulatory questions across Europe.

"Anne was also an excellent communicator of her research and, as well as commemorating her work, my lecture will highlight some of the cutting edge advances in today's stem cell research field."

Prof Mummery's lab in The Netherlands is a world leader in the study of the basic development of the heart and how embryonic stem cells differentiate into the cardiac and vascular cells that make up the adult heart.

Prof Mummery said: "Stem cell therapies have the potential to help us to treat and manage a wide range of diseases and conditions. Using stem cells to repair hearts damaged by disease could be one of the most promising in the near future. There are hurdles still to overcome but we have made real progress in producing the right sort of cells that would be needed."

Speaking on behalf of Dr McLaren's family, Professor Susan Michie said: "We are delighted that Professor Mummery will give this important lecture in honour of Anne. The presentation of cutting edge stem cell research, which has such huge potential for improving the health and well-being of people the world over, would have delighted Anne. Anne thought that society was the poorer for often overlooking the huge talent amongst women scientists; it is therefore very appropriate that a world-renowned woman scientist is delivering this lecture."


This lecture was presented at the UK National Stem Cell Network Inaugural Science Meeting at the Edinburgh Conference Centre on 9 April 2008.

The conference is a showcase of the best and latest UK stem cell science across all stem cell disciplines.

The UK National Stem Cell Network acts as a network of the existing regional stem cell networks in the UK, to bring coordination and coherence to a range of national and regional activities in the field of stem cell research.

The UKNSCN secretariat receives financial support from four of the UK Research Councils: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Medical Research Council (MRC) The Network represents the UK stem cell research community and is run through an independent Steering Committee. Initially, the secretariat is operated by BBSRC on behalf of all the Government sponsors of stem cell research, including the Research Councils, the Department of Health and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Source: Matt Goode
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

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