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Module 3: Pluripotency and Reprogramming in vitro

Introduction and Learning Objectives: 

Module 3 dives into different types of pluripotent stem cells. Students will learn what an embryonic stem cell is, how it is derived, and what makes them pluripotent. There is a special emphasis on defining pluripotency by molecular means and differentiation potential. Understanding pluripotency will unlock reprogramming and the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells. The module ends with an overview of the possible clinical application of pluripotent stem cells as a window into their medical and research potential. Additionally, this module contains an extra set of topics for advanced students interested in pluripotent stem cell biology.  

At the conclusion of this module, students should be able to:

  • identify defining pluripotent stem cell features;
  • define the principles of reprogramming;
  • design experiments to test if cells are pluripotent;
  • describe the embryonic stem cell origin;
  • understand cellular features that sustain pluripotency;
  • develop tools to evaluate stem cell potential;
  • compare different pluripotent stem cells and strategies for obtaining them;
  • evaluate which diseases  and conditions can be modeled using iPS cells
  • evaluate the use of different types of pluripotent stem cells in experiments or in the clinic.

Core Concepts

1. Establishment of embryonic stem cells (ESCs)
2. Characterization of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs)
3. Molecular mechanisms underlying pluripotency 
4. Induction of pluripotency
5. Potential of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in basic and clinical applications

Advanced Topics

  1. Alternative PSCs
  2. Reprogramming using defined factors
  3. Mechanisms of reprogramming

This module is part of the ISSCR's Core Concepts in Stem Cell Biology: Syllabus and Learning Guide. To access the experiments, theories, and primary and secondary literature that support each of these concepts, download the complete resource by using the form on the right-hand side of this webpage.

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Education Committee

Esteban Orlando Mazzoni, PhD (Chair)
New York University, USA

William J. Anderson, PhD
Harvard University, USA

Sina Bartfeld, PhD
University of Wuerzburg, Germany

Anna Couturier
EuroStemCell and University of Edinburgh, UK

Yvanka de Soysa, PhD
Boston Children's Hospital, USA

Robin Scott Hawley, PhD
Stowers Institute for Medical Research, USA

Ping Hu, PhD
Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Yuin Han Jonathan Loh, PhD
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore

Lolitika Mandal, PhD
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, India

Zubin Master, PhD
Mayo Clinic, USA

Alysson Renato Muotri, PhD
University of California, San Diego, USA

Jose Maria Polo, PhD
Monash University, Australia

Julie Perlin, PhD
International Society for Stem Cell Research, USA