since 1999. Why Geneva? I was offered a position
at the University, where we are spearheading stem cell
research in Western Switzerland. The Lake Geneva region
offers great potential!
I have always been passionate about cell biology and in the last 12 years I have become more and more interested in the developmental biology aspect of heart cells.
For many years it was common belief that the cells in the heart and brain did not regenerate. The discovery of the existence of stem cells in both organs raised hopes as to being able to better identify these cells and to discover whether such cells could be used to regenerate a damaged heart or brain. Identifying the mechanisms of heart stem cell regeneration are therefore of particular interest with a view to future therapies.
Thanks to the derivation of human embryonic stem cells (ESC) at the end of the last century (in the late 1990s), we have now the possibility to investigate fundamental mechanisms regulating human cardiac cell specification and maturation in the context of the development of the heart. Such studies were not possible before and open up great possibilities for both regenerative medicine and drug testing and disease modelling. Switzerland and the US State of California were the first to establish a stem cell law, indicating public acceptance of embryonic stem cell research.
This is the reason why I have been working in this field since 1999, when I came back from my post-doctoral work in the USA and France. Why Geneva? I was offered a position at the University, where we are spearheading stem cell research in Western Switzerland. The Lake Geneva region offers great potential!
By Dr. Marisa Jaconi
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