Regenerative Biology is the Morgridge Institute’s inaugural platform for propelling stem cell use into standard medicine to advance therapeutic procedures and improve human health. The Thomson Lab is made up of researchers focused on understanding how a cell can maintain or change identity, how a cell chooses between self-renewal and the initial decision to differentiate, and how a differentiated cell with limited developmental potential can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent cell. Through its research, the Thomson Lab strives to develop stem cell-based therapies for wide-scale use as treatment for numerous diseases, from cancer to retinal degenerative diseases causing blindness. Learn more.
Regenerative Biology Director James Thomson’s discoveries in human stem cell research at UW-Madison have redefined biomedicine, first with the isolation and culturing of human embryonic stem cells in 1998; then in the development of human pluripotent stem cells from adult skin cells in 2007. The discoveries led to two “Breakthrough of the Year” honors from the journal Science; cover-story coverage in Time magazine, which named him one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People” in 2008; and receipt in 2011 of the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, known as “America’s Nobel.”
“The insights we are gaining on how the human body works are what ultimately will transform medicine. With the access we now have to these basic cellular building blocks, we can for the first time begin to understand why certain cells fail to regenerate or die, which is the essential path for many debilitating diseases including Parkinson’s, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Beyond transplantation therapies, we can begin to think about preventing the progression of disease at an early enough stage to improve the quality of life for many people.”