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Verfaillie To Deliver NIH Director's Lecture, Feb. 11 in Masur

Dr. Catherine Verfaillie will deliver the NIH Director's Lecture on "Greater Potency of Adult Stem Cells," at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. Verfaillie is director of the Stem Cell Institute and professor of medicine, division of hematology, oncology, and transplantation in the department of medicine at the University of Minnesota. The lecture will focus on her discovery of multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs) and her laboratory's ongoing research on their properties and potential therapeutic uses.

Dr. Catherine Verfaillie will deliver the NIH Director's Lecture on "Greater Potency of Adult Stem Cells," at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

Verfaillie and her colleagues identified MAPCs and were the first to show that these cells, derived from adult bone marrow, can differentiate in vitro and in vivo into almost all cell types of the body. "Finding MAPCs opens the possibility that 'adult' stem cells from easily accessible sources like marrow could be used to treat degenerative and inherited disorders," Verfaillie said. "But a lot of questions remain. Is their plasticity due to co-existence of multiple tissue-specific stem cells in marrow or can a single cell turn into most types? What is the mechanism underlying differentiation of MAPCs? These are the types of questions that still need to be answered."

Her research has shown that MAPCs can be cultured from human, mouse and rat marrow. Ongoing work in her laboratory is aimed at further characterizing these cells and developing approaches for using them in the treatment of mucopolysaccharoidosis, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anemia and other diseases.

A hematologist known for her work on leukemia, Verfaillie's research career has focused on the microenvironment of bone marrow, specifically hematopoietic stem cell regulation and proliferation, stem cell therapy for leukemia, and most recently, the potential therapeutic value of MAPCs. She has a long association with NIH, having received grants from various institutes since 1994 and currently holds grants from NHLBI, NIDDK and NCRR.

She earned her M.D. summa cum laude from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, her native country. After a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology at the University of Leuven, she moved to the University of Minnesota in 1987 to do a postdoctoral fellowship in hematology. In 1991, she was appointed assistant professor in the department of medicine and then in 1998 was named professor of medicine.

Verfaillie has published extensively in the scientific literature and has received numerous honors and awards for her work. She holds the Anderson chair in stem cell biology; the Tulloch chair in stem cell biology, genetics and genomics; and the McKnight's presidential chair in stem cell biology. Among her other honors are the Young Investigator Award from the International Society of Experimental Hematology, membership in the Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine, and the 2003 Jose Carreras Award from the European Society of Hematology. The Leukemia Society of America has also honored her with the designations of special fellow and scholar. In 2000, U.S. News and World Report named her "one of the ten leading innovators for 2001."

The lecture is part of the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series. For information and reasonable accommodation, contact Hilda Madine at (301) 594-5595 or

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