Syllabus main content.


Part 1 - April 20: Stem Cells: history, origins, different types and potential

  • What are stem cells?
  • What are the different types of stem cells?
  • What is their potential in research and treatment?
  • Are there stem cells in other organisms?


“Stem Cells: history, origins, different types and potential”
Introduction to stem cells, what different kinds of stem cells are available, and their potential for future and research.

Dr. Zehra Dincer is the stem cell educator at American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology from Weill Cornell Biomedical Sciences/ Sloan Kettering Institute. Her doctoral work focused on deriving precursors of sensory organs and pituitary hormones from human embryonic stem cells. She holds a patent for her discovery.

Part 2 - April 27: Using Reprogramming and Genome Editing Technologies for Pluripotent Stem Cell-Based Cellular Therapy and Disease Modeling

  • How can adult cells be induced into being stem cells again?
  • Why are induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) powerful for personalized treatments?
  • How do we use iPS to study Alzheimer’s Disease?
  • How can we use CRISPR gene editing technology with stem cells?

“Using Reprogramming and Genome Editing Technologies for Pluripotent Stem Cell-Based Cellular Therapy and Disease Modeling”
Using stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells to model and study diseases by using gene editing technology.

Dr. Andrew Sproul is an Assistant Professor of Pathology & Cell Biology and Director of the Stem Cells and Cellular Models Platform in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at the Columbia University Medical Center. His research focuses on generating pluripotent stem cell models (PSC) of Alzheimer’s disease. This includes generation of patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines and by using genome editing technologies to create allelic libraries of isogenic disease and control PSC lines. These human-specific tools may help elucidate pathological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and provide a better platform for therapeutic development.


Part 3 - May 4: Stem Cells: how scientists can mimic human development in a culture dish by using stem cells and coax the stem cells into particular cell types, using the example of neural lineage

  • How do scientists study stem cells and harness their potential?
  • How do scientists differentiate stem cells into particular cell types?
  • What is somatic nuclear transfer and mitochondrial replacement therapy?
  • Can chimeras be used for organ replacement?


“Stem Cells: how scientists can mimic human development in a culture dish by using stem cells and coax the stem cells into particular cell types, using the example of neural lineage”  
To understand how we can direct stem cells to particular cell types.

Dr. Esteban Mazzoni is Assistant Professor of Biology at New York University. His research focuses on stem cell biology, cell fate differentiation, and developmental neuroscience. He received his training in developmental biology from New York University and training in cellular biology and physiology from the University of Buenos Aires.

Part 4 - May 11: Panel Discussion: The bioethics of stem cell research and therapy.

Panelists: Dr. Robert Klitzman, Josephine Johnston, and Beth Roxland

  • What are the controversies of human embryonic stem cell research?
  • What are the concerns about the ethical use of stem cell research in basic and clinical research?

About the Panelists:

Dr. Robert Klitzman is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Joseph Mailman School of Public Health and the Director of the Masters of Bioethics Program at Columbia University. He co-founded and for five years co-directed the Center for Bioethics. He has conducted regarding a variety of ethical issues in medicine and public health, ad has written over 120 scientific journal articles, and eight books, including Am I My Genes? Confronting Fate and Other Genetic JourneysThe Ethics Police?: The Struggle to Make Human Research Safe,  When Doctors Become PatientsA Year-Long Night: Tales of a Medical InternshipIn a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a PsychiatristBeing Positive: The Lives of Men and Women With HIV, and Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS.  He is a regular contributor to the New York Times, and CNN, and has received several awards for his work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Aaron Diamond Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund.  He is a gubernatorial appointee to the NY State Stem Cell Commission, and has been a member of the Research Ethics Advisory Panel of the US Department of Defense.

Josephine Johnston is an expert on the ethical, legal, and policy implications of biomedical technologies, particularly as used in human reproduction, psychiatry, genetics, and neuroscience. In addition to numerous scholarly publications, her commentaries have appeared in Stat News, The New Republic, Time, Washington Post, and The Scientist. Ms. Johnston is interviewed frequently by the media, appearing in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Wired, and Vice Media and on ABC’s “Nightline.” She is a New Zealand-trained lawyer with a master’s degree in bioethics and health law from the University of Otago. She joined the staff of The Hastings Center as a research scholar in 2003 and became director of research in 2012. Prior to coming to Hastings Center, Ms. Johnston worked as a bioethics researcher at Dalhousie University and the University of Minnesota. She has also worked as a lawyer in both New Zealand and Germany.

Beth E. Roxland, JD,. M.Bioethics, is an Associate of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine and a Senior Legal and Health Policy Consultant to law firms, academic medical centers, and research entities. Ms. Roxland previously served as Johnson & Johnson's Bioethics and Strategy Leader in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer, the Executive Director of the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, the Special Advisor to the Commissioner of Health on Stem Cell Research Ethics, and Senior Associate in the litigation department of Simpson Thacher and Bartlett.

Ms. Roxland has created policy, lectured and published on a range of stem cell topics, including embryonic stem cell research protocols, human-animal chimera research, compensation of women who donate their oocytes to stem cell research, somatic cell nuclear transfer, informed consent processes, re-contact for return of research results and incidental findings, and downstream uses of biological samples.


Part 5 - May 18: Moving Stem Cells to the Clinic: Parkinson’s Disease

  • Where do we have stem cells in our bodies as adults? What is their function?
  • How can adult stem cells be used for treatment?
  • Upcoming clinical trials for age-related macular degeneration treatment.


“Moving Stem Cells to the Clinic: Parkinson’s Disease”
Using stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells to model and study diseases and further application in clinics.

Dr. Jason Tchieu earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Graduate School in 2011. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City in the laboratory of Dr. Lorenz Studer, where he is working on development programs to generate astrocytes from pluripotent stem cells.



The Science of Stem Cells in the Sackler Educational Laboratory is supported by the Empire State Stem Cell Fund through New York State Departmental of Health Contract # DOH01-C30157GG-3450000, offering ongoing programs and resources for adults, teachers, and students to illuminate the extraordinary workings of the stem cell research.

The Museum gratefully acknowledges The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, Inc, for its support to establish the Sackler Brain Bench, part of the Museum’s Sackler Educational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins, in the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins.