Friday, March 6, 2009 | If there is an issue that gets both scientists and lay people equally fired up, it’s human embryonic stem cells. Whether it is the incredible research advances they make possible, or the political fireworks they cause, stem cells are rarely a dull topic.
In the middle of it all is 39-year-old Travis Berggren, director of Salk Institute for Biological Studies’ stem cell core facility. The facility houses human embryonic stem cells, and supports the stem-cell research of scientists at Salk as well as other local research institutes.
Berggren worked for five years earlier this decade under University of Wisconsin cell biologist James Thomson, who is considered the father of stem-cell research. Last year, Salk lured Berggren back home (he grew up in San Diego) to start up the facility. He recently sat down with us to talk about a variety of stem-cell related topics from expectations of the Obama administration to bleeding-edge research in the field.
So where do the stem cell lines at your facility come from, and how many have been available to researchers since the federal funding ban has been in place?