media release

Cafe Scientifique: Stem cells and medicine's future

February 12, 2014

Contact: Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;


The significance of stem cells and their role in the repair and development of cellular growth will be the topic of discussion at Simon Fraser University’s next Café Scientifique, to be held at CBC’s Vancouver studio on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.

Esther Verheyen, a professor in SFU’s department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry for the past 16 years, will share her insights on what kinds of medical conditions have the potential to be treated using stem cells.

“I have been interested in stem cells for years,” says Verheyen, who was drawn to genetics as a student at Cornell University. She later earned a PhD in the field at Yale University.

“In my lab we study the development of different tissues and organs in a model organism—the fruit fly,” she explains. The researchers want to gain more understanding of the mechanisms used by cells to ensure properly regulated growth and tissue formation.

“The key events that govern stem cell behaviour and early development are conserved across species, and so the mechanisms we study are closely related and interconnected with stem cell studies,” she explains.

Verheyen’s work with one of her graduate students two years ago sparked excitement in the molecular biology science community with their discovery of how a particular type of protein controls the growth of another protein, a finding that could advance cancer research.

The café is the fourth in a series that began last fall at SFU’s Surrey campus. It’s the first of three to be held at the CBC Vancouver location. The others will focus on seniors and physical activity (Mar. 26) with Dawn Mackey, assistant professor in SFU’s department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology (BPK), and the increasing burden of chronic diseases (April 16) with Scott Lear, BPK and health sciences professor.

SFU’s Faculty of Science and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research support the cafés. For more details and to register:

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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