Esther Verheyen

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Café Scientifique explores stem cells

February 14, 2014
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How might stem cells change the future of medicine? That’s the discussion topic at SFU’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 explain what stem cells are and why they’re so significant for cellular repair and growth. Then, she’ll discuss medical conditions that might be treatable 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 Verheyen’s lab, researchers study how various tissues and organs develop in fruit flies. Their quest: to understand the mechanisms that cells use 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 scientific community when they discovered 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 the Surrey campus and the first of three to be held at CBC Vancouver.

Upcoming cafés:

March 26, 2014 - CBC, Vancouver
Immunizing against physical inactivity: How do we entice seniors to be active? With Dawn Mackey, assistant professor of biomedical physiology and kinesiology

April 16, 2014 - CBC, Vancouver
The increasing burden of chronic diseases. With Scott Lear, associate professor in both the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology and the Faculty of Health Sciences.

SFU’s Faculty of Science and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research support the cafés. For more details and to register: http://at.sfu.ca/cGQsxl.

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