History of CRM
History of CRM and University of Edinburgh stem cell research.
The University of Edinburgh has a strong history in stem cell research, dating back to the first stem cell publications in the early 1990s by researchers at the Centre for Genome Research. In 1996 Prof Austin Smith was appointed as Director of this centre and under his leadership it became the first Institute of Stem Cell Research (ISCR) in the UK.
Over the years ISCR developed into a world leading centre for multidisciplinary research in basic stem cell biology, dedicated to developing an understanding of the mechanisms underlying stem cell self-renewal and differentiation processes.
In 2008, ISCR scientists at the University's School of Biological Sciences joined efforts with their colleagues at the College for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine to form the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, a unique cross-college initiative directed by Professor Sir Ian Wilmut.
The CRM building (or Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine) was officially opened in 2012 by HRH Princess Royal and received substantial funding from the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.
CRM at 10
In 2018, CRM celebrated its 10th anniversary. Here are some of our highlights from those 10 incredible years.
Dr Keisuke Kaji made a major breakthrough in 2009, sucessfully refining a technique to make induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
After Ian’s ground-breaking work to establish CRM, it was Prof Charles ffrench-Constant who took the helm in 2010 to become CRM’s second director. It was also the year that Charles and Prof Siddharthan Chandran played a pivotal role in setting up the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic.
It took 5 years of planning and 3 years to build, but in 2011 the first CRM staff moved into their new home at 5 Little France Drive.
Prof Ian Chambers’ group made fresh discoveries regarding the gene regulator Nanog. Named after Tír na nÓg, the mythical Celtic land of the ever-young, Nanog controls the efficiency with which stem cells create duplicate cells.
Prof Anura Rambukkana and his team at CRM found that bacteria were able to change the make-up of supporting cells within the nerve system, called Schwann cells, so that they took on the properties of stem cells.
Prof Stuart Forbes and his team received £2 million funding from the Medical Research Council and Innovate UK to start a clinical trial for liver disease patients using a new cell therapy to treat the condition. It was the world’s first clinical trial of a new type of cell therapy to treat liver cirrhosis.
In 2015, Dr Tilo Kunath started a research project to investigate whether Parkinson’s disease could be diagnosed from skin swabs. The research was prompted by a woman with an acute sense of smell, Joy Milne, who approached Tilo at one of his public engagement events at CRM.
Scientists at the CRM identified a molecule that drives the development of bile duct cancer. The research in mice and human cells sheds new light on what triggers the disease and how the illness progresses.
Dr Steve Pollard and his team used technology to modify the genes of neuronal stem cells in different ways, including engineering two mutations found in glioblastoma. This will allow the more detailed study of the precise effects of different genes and mutations in neuronal stem cells, providing models for glioblastoma to investigate the disease.
A study by Prof David Hay and colleagues found liver tissue implants supported liver function in mice with a type of liver disease. This suggests that liver tissue grown from stem cells could one day replace the need for liver transplants.
Institute for Regeneration and Repair
In 2015, The University of Edinburgh secured £10.7m capital funding to build a new research facility adjacent to CRM. The new Centre for Tissue Repair building, together with the CRM building, will house the University's new Institute for Regeneration and Repair.
The Institute for Regeneration and Repair will seek to understand stem cell biology, inflammation and disease to develop new therapies to heal damaged tissues. It incorporates researchers from the CRM and the Centre for Inflammation Research.
Construction of the new Centre for Tissue Repair building began in October 2017.