Wednesday's sessions are devoted to academic topics while Thursday's program focuses on corporate participation and investment opportunities that seek to translate research findings into new therapies.
Researchers and investors in Israel are at the forefront of stem cell science, in part because Jewish traditions related to the beginning of life differ from beliefs held by some Christians and others, permitting work with embryonic stem cells that has been the subject of ongoing debate in the United States and elsewhere.
Three of Israel's prominent stem cell scientists will open Wednesday's sessions. Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor, M.D., of Rambam Medical Center at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, will present "The Promise of Human Embryonic Stem Cells," beginning at 9 a.m. He was among the team that first isolated stem cells from human embryos in 1998. He will be followed by his Technion colleague Lior Gepstein, M.D., Ph.D., who will describe the use of stem cells in the regeneration of heart muscle cells. Gepstein and Itskovitz-Eldor were the first to grow the precursors of heart cells from embryonic stem cells.
Developmental geneticist Nissim Benvenisty, M.D., Ph.D., of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, credited with making a number of discoveries and innovations in the development and modification of stem cells, will present a session on human embryonic stem cells in medical and genetic research. Benvenisty was one of the symposium's organizers, along with David Meyer, Ph.D., vice president of Research and Scientific Affairs at Cedars-Sinai.
Wednesday's academic sessions also include: