April 18, 2019
Over the past month, MD/PhD Candidate Adam Ramzy has competed in the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. The 3MT is an international competition wherein graduate students are asked to summarize their thesis research in a 3 minute presentation for a general audience. This year, Adam competed against over 80 graduate students and won the UBC 3MT competition (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZaYQ0OiT4k&t=) which qualified him for the Western Canadian competition in Prince George on April 17th, 2019. We are pleased to announce that Adam won the Western Canadian regional championship and will now be moving on to represent UBC at the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies National competition! Congratulations and good luck!
April 1, 2019
The Kieffer lab is pleased to announce funding support from JDRF for the project entitled “Implant of Differentiated Pluripotent Stem Cells to Treat Diabetes”. The project, with Co-PI Dr. Melanie Graham from the University of Minnesota, aims to assess the feasibility of treating diabetes when stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells are deposited under the skin, into muscle, or infused into the liver. These tests will be performed in two different animal models to strengthen the impact of our findings. It is our hope that these studies will contribute to the identification of a practical and clinically relevant procedure to effectively treat diabetes with cells derived from stem cells, thereby forming the basis for new clinical trials in patients with type 1 diabetes. We are extremely grateful to JDRF for enabling us to conduct this research.
October 1, 2018
We are pleased to announce new funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project entitled “Engineering Stem Cells for Islet Cell Replacement”. This project, with Co-PIs Dr. Megan Levings (BC Children's Hospital Research Institute) and Dr. Knut Woltjen (Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University) aims to engineer new stem cell lines that will not be detectable by a recipient’s immune system and can thus be transplanted without encapsulation or the use of immune-suppressive agents. Moreover, in order to enhance the safety profile of these cells, we have designed several ‘safety-switches’ whereby the cells may be selectively eliminated if needed. We thank NIH for supporting this Canada/Japan collaborative effort to develop novel cell therapy tools that we hope to apply in our diabetes research.
September 13, 2018
Timothy James Kieffer is honoured to be admitted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, “for having demonstrated both distinctive accomplishments and the commitment to advance the health sciences”. Induction into the CAHS as a Fellow is considered one of the highest honours within Canada’s academic community. CAHS Fellows, who serve as unpaid volunteers, are nominated by their institutions and peers and selected in a competitive process based on their internationally recognized leadership, academic performance, scientific creativity and willingness to serve.
April 12, 2018
The Kieffer lab is excited to announce new funding from the Stem Cell Network for a project to assess the maturation and function of stem cell-derived insulin producing cells in in subcutaneous macroencapsulation devices. The project will compare two different devices that are currently in clinical trials, one which provides immunoprotection and one which has small holes to improve the blood supply, but requires immunosuppression. We thank the Stem Cell Network for this support and are eager to get this new work underway.
January 16, 2018
The first implant of stem cell derived insulin producing cells in a patient with type 1 diabetes in Vancouver has now been conducted. This trial, supported by the Stem Cell Network, involves subcutaneous implant of human pancreatic progenitor cells encased in retrievable macroencapsulation devices, that are produced by the California company ViaCyte. The cells are cultivated under highly stringent conditions to specifically form islet cells a few months after implant. The trial hopes to achieve the improvements in glucose control and reduced reliance on insulin injections that are typically observed after transplant of donor supplied pancreatic islets, and represents an important milestone towards the use of an unlimited cell source for islet cell replacement. Leading the trial are transplant surgeon Dr. Garth Warnock and endocrinologist Dr. David Thompson at Vancouver General Hospital, accompanied by a tremendous network of support staff and associated researchers that are all highly motivated to see this approach succeed. We are extremely grateful to patients willing to participate in these cell therapy trials. For more on this trial please see the UBC press release and the Stem Cell Network press release.
January 15, 2018
We are delighted to have the following world-renowned scientists take part in our Killam Connection-sponsored public lecture series and graduate course entitled "STEM CELLS AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?"
PUBLIC LECTURES - EVERYONE WELCOME:
Wed Jan 17, 2018, 7PM - DR. JAMES SHAPIRO, University of Alberta - CURING DIABETES: PERSPECTIVES FROM CELL TRANSPLANT RESEARCH AND FROM A TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT
Wed Jan 31, 2018, 7PM - DR. DENIS CLAUDE ROY, University of Montreal - CAN IMMUNE CELLS REALLY CURE CANCER?
Wed Feb 28, 2018, 7PM - DR. MICHAEL RUDNICKI, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute - REGENERATIVE MEDICINE: THE POTENTIAL OF STEM CELLS
Thurs Mar 15, 2018, 7PM - TIMOTHY CAULFIELD, University of Alberta - TWISTED MESSAGES, FALSE HOPE AND UNPROVEN REGENERATIVE THERAPIES
Thurs Mar 29, 2018, 7PM - DR. KNUT WOLTJEN, Kyoto University - GENES AND CELLS: THE LIVING DRUGS OF A NEW MEDICAL ERA
All public lectures will take place in UBC's Life Sciences Centre, Room LSC3 (2350 Health Sciences Mall, UBC Main Campus, Vancouver).
July 21, 2017
We are pleased to announce funding support from Killam Connection for a new UBC graduate course being offered Jan through Apr 2018 entitled "Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine - What does the Future Hold?" (PHYL 548B).
The course will cover topics ranging from ethical issues, business aspects, and clinical challenges in developing cell based therapies for disease. Ten faculty and a medical reporter have agreed to participate in the course, including 5 external faculty who will share their perspectives on the successes and failures, and experience from bench to bedside.
More information is available at http://cps.med.ubc.ca/regenmedcourse/
April 20, 2017
The Kieffer lab is very grateful to receive notification of funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for a project entitled “A Zebrafish Model to Investigate Beta-Cell Functional Maturation and Heterogeneity”. This new funding will enable us to take advantage of genetic engineering techniques combined with the transparent nature of zebrafish embryos to study how beta-cells develop and mature, as well as the basis for functional heterogeneity that is observed in adult islets. This research will also provide excellent opportunities for trainees to gain advanced skills in molecular biology and live cell imaging. We thank NSERC for providing this support to the lab.
January 14, 2017
Dr. Suheda Erener, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kieffer lab, has received a prestigious Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship from JDRF International. This fellowship is awarded to applicants that are showing extraordinary promise in health sciences and are preparing for a transition to an independent (faculty-level) research position. During the fellowship period in the Kieffer lab, Dr. Erener will be investigating the role of micro-RNAs in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and their value as predictive biomarkers. We are very grateful to JDRF International for this support.
November 24, 2016
The Kieffer lab is excited to announce new funding from the Stem Cell Network to advance a stem cell based therapy for diabetes. One grant will support Drs. Timothy Kieffer, James Johnson, Francis Lynn, and Brad Hoffman, to improve protocols to manufacture glucose-responsive insulin-producing cells from human stem cells. In a second Stem Cell Network funded project, Drs. Timothy Kieffer, Garth Warnock, David Thompson, Grady Meneilly, and Megan Levings, will collaborate with the California company ViaCyte to initiate clinical trials in patients with type 1 diabetes in Vancouver. The trial, pending approval from the UBC Research Ethics Board and Health Canada, will involve implant of ViaCyte produced encapsulated PEC-01 cells, that are pancreatic progenitor cells derived from stem cells. The PEC-01 progenitor cells are designed to mature into human pancreatic islet cells, including glucose-responsive insulin secreting beta cells, following implant. Dr. Kieffer also received a grant to examine the biodistribution of differentiated stem cells following subcutaneous transplant. We are very appreciative of this funding and eager to get this new work underway.
November 1, 2016
Endocrinology selects our paper on the degradation of GIP and GLP-1 by enzyme dipeptidylpeptidase IV to highlight for Endocrine Society Centennial. See Editorial by Dr. Patricia Brubaker in Endocrinology: Cleavage Matters (Endocrinology, November 2016, 157(11):4091–4093).
“The selected Centennial Paper was the first demonstration of the physiological importance of the enzyme, dipeptidylpeptidase IV, for the degradation of several intestinal peptide hormones. This finding led to the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes and short bowel syndrome.”
October 1, 2016
Dr. Cara Ellis, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kieffer lab, has received a prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship from the JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (JDRF CCTN) Clinical Translation in T1D Program, in collaboration with Eli Lilly Canada Inc. Dr. Ellis recently joined the Kieffer lab from the University of Alberta where she conducted her Ph.D. with Dr. Gregory Korbutt on type 1 diabetes cell therapy. During the fellowship period in the Kieffer lab, Dr. Ellis will be investigating the subcutaneous transplant of differentiated pluripotent stem cells to treat diabetes. We are very grateful to JDRF and Eli Lilly Canada Inc. for this support.
August 1, 2016
The Kieffer lab is pleased to announce funding support from JDRF for the project entitled “Subcutaneous Transplant of Differentiated Human Pluripotent Stem Cells to Treat Diabetes”. The goal of this project is to carefully assess the feasibility of treating diabetes when differentiated stem cells are implanted under the skin using various approaches. It is our hope that these studies will identify a practical and clinically relevant procedure to effectively treat diabetes with cells derived from stem cells, thereby forming the basis for trials in patients. We are extremely grateful to JDRF for enabling us to conduct this research.
July 1, 2016
Dr. Kieffer has been awarded a Killam Faculty Research Fellowship to conduct a 1 year sabbatical at the University of Kyoto, Japan. Dr. Kieffer will be working at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), under the direction of Professor Shinya Yamanaka, who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012 for the discovery of methods to reprogram mature cells into pluripotent stem cells. Professor Yamanaka established CiRA to develop iPS cell-based technologies for the benefit of patients afflicted with intractable diseases, and to function as a world-leading iPS cell research institute.
January 1, 2016
Dr. Kieffer has received a generous donation from Charles R. Allard to fund the establishment of the Allard Cell Therapy Lab, which will be located in the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia, in space directly adjacent to Dr. Kieffer’s laboratory. The funding will provide support for lab renovations, equipment purchase, recruitment of two cell culture technicians, and lab supplies necessary for the culture and differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. The main goal of the lab will be to support efforts to treat diabetes by implant of insulin producing cells that are derived in large quantities from human stem cells. All members of the Kieffer lab are very thankful to Charles Allard for his kind support and his vision to stimulate the formation of this new facility, which will undoubtedly have a major impact on our ability to contribute to the development of a cure for diabetes.