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Stem Cell Research Training 2007

Dates and places
PABSELA-SCRT07 took place at Fundación Instituto Leloir, Buenos Aires, Argentina between 28 MAY and 10 JUN 2007.

Course Description
The students who completed the first PABSELA course were a selected group of 23 young Latin American investigators from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico with a 1:1 gender ratio and an average age of 30 years. PABSELA-Stem Cell Research Training 2007 (SCRT07) students were predominantly PhD candidates carrying out clinical and scientific research in academic institutions (see figure 1). All of the students coming from Latin American non-for-profit institutions were granted a full tuition scholarship. Furthermore, students coming from the Argentine countryside obtained travel funds from the Argentine Secretariat of Science and Technology. The cohort included biochemists, engineers, physicians, biologists, and neuroscientists, and these diverse backgrounds provided a synergistic effect during class discussions. Prior to the course, the students prepared by reading around 80 scientific publications in the month between being notified of their selection and the beginning of the course.

On the first day of the course, the students were welcomed at FIL by PABSELA co-directors and scientists from the institute. After receiving the printed course material, they paid a visit to the FIL laboratories and facilities in order to familiarize themselves with the place where they would work the next two weeks. PABSELA-SCRT07 consisted of 21 lectures and discussions of scientific publications and 15 laboratory sessions for a total of 126 hours of intensive courses. During the training they analyzed the latest data on stem cell research directly from 17 researchers who are leaders in the field at a global level.

The faculty included eight scientists from Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospitals, four of whom are also faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. The faculty also included six Latin American leaders in stem cell research from FIL and Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Universidad de Chile, Chile; and Univesidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Faculty members from Case Western Reserve University, UT Southwestern University, United States, and Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Canada also delivered lectures.

The laboratory activities included a method for in vitro derivation of germ cell lineage elements from mouse embryonic stem cells (Geijsen and Daley, 2006, Methods in Enzymology 418:307-14), where students learned to identify, isolate, and derive cells of the male gamete lineage from mouse embryonic stem cells in culture. Second, the students derived and differentiated mouse embryonic stem cells into both beating cardiomyocytes and smooth muscle cells (Wu et al., 2006, Cell 127:1137-50). Both techniques were developed at Children's Hospital Boston.

In addition, SCRT07 laboratory activities emphasized epigenetic analysis of stem cells. Students learned a quantitative method that enables comprehensive and unbiased genome-wide DNA methylation analysis (methylation-specific digital karyotyping, MSDK) (Hu et al., 2006, Nature Protocols 3:1621-36), which was developed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

The laboratory activities include techniques of histology, immunostaining, tissue culture, molecular biology, and bioinformatics. This part of the program involved the acquisition of laboratory materials and consumables provided by Harvard Medical International, Fundacion Crimson, and PABSELA Sponsors to Fundacion Instituto Leloir.

Each laboratory activity was lead by a Harvard professor with the help of four teaching assistants. Previous to the course, the teaching assistants (one American, one Mexican, and two Argentinean) were trained in Boston in the cutting-edge techniques to be developed during the course. The Argentinean young scientists took advantage of their stay in the US to pay visits to Harvard Hospitals and Laborat