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Module 4: Adult Stem Cells and Regeneration

Introduction and Learning Objectives: 

Module 4 concentrates on adult stem cells and their function. Students will be exposed to adult stem cells and how they maintain tissues during homeostasis and in response to injury, contextualizing the role of endogenous adult stem cells. The module will explore differences in adult stem cell differentiation potential across the animal kingdom and various tissues. Moreover, students will appreciate how, depending on their potency, adult stem cells play diverse functions across species. Finally, the module introduces transdifferentiation and in vitro and in vivo mechanisms to change cell fate.

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

  • describe different types of adult stem cells and how they were experimentally identified;
  • design an experiment to test whether a newly identified cell is an adult stem cell;
  • explain the role of adult stem cells in tissue homeostasis;
  • categorize adult stem cell potency across different types of mammalian tissues;
  • compare regenerative potential across species;
  • hypothesize why the regenerative capacity of adult stem cells varies widely among different tissues and species;
  • design experiments to test whether unique characteristics of highly regenerative adult stem cells could be applied to enhance regeneration of adult stem cells with little ability to regenerate;
  • develop testable hypotheses around how adult stem cells could be used in the clinic.

Core Concepts

  1. Tissue regenerative capacity
  2. Regeneration in planaria, zebrafish, axolotl, and mammals
  3. Facultative stem cells
  4. Transdifferentiation
  5. De-Differentiation and plasticity

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