NUI Galway Researchers take part in European Stem Cell Public Engagement Project

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway is part of a new EuroStemCell project which connects European citizens with stem cell research. The ambitious four-year project unites more than 90 European stem cell and regenerative medicine research laboratories in a coordinated effort to engage with the public about their science. The project's main component is a website www.EuroStemCell.org which acts as a multi-lingual portal composed by researchers. It explores stem cell research and maps where stem cell research stands for the different countries involved in the project. All countries in Europe are not at the same point in development of stem cell research. The website aims to dispel myths surrounding stem cell research, and give clear, accessible and comprehensive information and knowledge to the public. Programme Manager at REMEDI, Kieran Ryan says: "REMEDI are extremely proud to be leading a strand of the European Union FP7-funded EuroStemCell project. The quality and pedigree of the other partners involved in this project reflects very strongly on the achievements of REMEDI and NUI Galway in this emerging scientific area. Our involvement in EuroStemCell will ensure that Ireland is at the heart of the European discourse on regenerative medicine and we are very excited about contributing to this valuable endeavour". The EuroStemCell consortium of scientists, clinicians, specialist communicators, science museums and educators will work together to develop the EuroStemCell.org website into a dynamic, multilingual information hub. The site will provide current analyses of the latest scientific developments, ethical issues and regulations. It will also develop and act as a central repository for stem cell resources, teaching tools and activities. Project participants, including REMEDI, gathered in Edinburgh earlier this year to kick-start their collaborative effort. Representatives from REMEDI will be involved in all aspects of the project, from contributing to the website, to the collation and development of resources for public engagement for educators and evaluation of those resources. EuroStemCell.org arose out of a previous stem cell research project and has since been actively supported by scientists. The current project has been awarded €830,000 by the EU's Framework 7 programme. The website already provides information and educational tools from short films to frequently asked questions, news pieces and teaching materials. Dr Clare Blackburn, University of Edinburgh the Project's Coordinator, said: "We want to provide accurate information, but also to encourage real dialogue between scientists and the public. The goal is to enable people to understand, question and form opinions on the science they read about in the newspapers, learn about at school and that will impact future healthcare". REMEDI is a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry funded research centre located at NUI Galway. Scientists and doctors at REMEDI are working together to combine the technologies of gene therapy and adult stem cell therapy to repair and replace damaged tissue. REMEDI research teams are looking at heart disease, arthritis, and neurological diseases, to research and develop medical therapies that enable repair of damaged and diseased tissue using living cells and genes.
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