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Global Affairs

2024 iPS Symposium: A Swiss-Japanese Dialogue on Stem Cell Research and Applications

The iPS Symposium 2024 at UZH has brought together leading researchers and industry specialists from Switzerland and Kyoto University in Japan to discuss advancements and future prospects in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). These cells have a significant potential for regenerative medicine and therapeutic applications.

Hosted by UZH’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IREM) and Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), the symposium focused on the potential of stem cells in healthcare and other fields. However, the focus is on iPSCs, which can be transformed into any type of body cell, they offer new opportunities to repair bodily damage and combat various diseases through new medical applications.

The event featured workshops, keynote speeches, and research presentations on gene editing, disease modeling and clinical application of stem cell use. These sessions provided a platform for knowledge and set the stage for future collaborations. Melanie Generali, organizer and head of the iPS Core Facility at IREM said: “The face-to-face dialogue among researchers at this symposium has underscored the critical role of direct communication in scientific progress."

Additionally, the event acknowledged the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Switzerland, reinforcing the countries' shared commitment to scientific progress.

  • The lecture on "The Current State of Regenerative Medicine in Japan and Switzerland" gathered researchers, an interested public, policy-makers, and industry experts alike.

  • Beatrice Beck Schimmer, UZH Vice President Medicine Zurich, opened the public lecture.

  • Jun Takahashi, Professor of Neurobiology at Kyoto University and Director of the CiRA during his presentation.

  • The UZH organizing team of the iPS Symposium from left to right: Vanessa Budny, PhD student in the Tackenberg/Nitsch group at IREM; Melanie Eschment, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Medical Genetics; David Taborsky, PhD Student working in the Sendoel Lab of IREM; Clara Duré, PhD student in the Sendoel lab at IREM; Melanie Generali, organizer and head of the iPS Core Facility at IREM.

  • Participants from UZH and the University of Kyoto, a strategic partner university since 2020.

  • Elisabeth Stark

    Elisabeth Stark, UZH Vice President Research, welcoming Jun Takahashi during the Symposium.

Strategic partnership at the basis

The symposium also highlighted the close ongoing collaboration between IREM and CiRA, demonstrating the role of international partnerships in advancing stem cell research and application. This collaboration exemplifies the longstanding partnership of UZH with Kyoto University, which has been formalized as a strategic partnership in 2020, following multiple collaborations and symposia in 2013 and 2016.

Joint research with UZH strategic partners is eligible for under the UZH Global Strategy and Partnership Funding. Besides the cooperation of IREM with CiRA, there are other impactful joint projects investigating, for example, the impact of climate change on crops. Overall, the sustained collaboration between UZH and Kyoto University has resulted in a series of high-visibility joint research publications.

Tiffany Merz-Cheok