NEWS | August 6, 2013

Knoepfler to receive award for stem cell advocacy

UC Davis researcher to be honored at World Stem Cell Summit


Paul Knoepfler, associate professor of cell biology and human anatomy, will be honored in December by the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) with one of its annual Stem Cell Action awards.

Paul Knoepfler © UC Regents Paul Knoepfler © UC Regents

Knoepfler, who is also an associate investigator at the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine at Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California, will receive GPI’s National Advocacy Award at the organization’s World Stem Cell Summit, which takes place this fall in San Diego. He is well known for his stem cell blog – – which he uses as a platform to explain the complexities of stem cell science as well as advocate on behalf of those interested in stem cell treatments.

“Dr. Knoepfler is a champion of our field,” said Bernard Siegel, executive director of GPI, an organization that supports stem cell research to develop therapeutics and cures. “His fearless and famous science blog focuses on the challenging issues facing our field. He is passionate about telling the story of stem cell research from his unique perspective as an accomplished researcher and as a patient advocate. We are proud to honor his work.”

Knoepfler is a cancer survivor whose research focuses on determining how stem cell behavior is controlled during normal embryonic development as well as during healing and regeneration. He studies how cellular control systems go awry in developmental disorders and cancer, and he is using leading-edge genomics technology to better understand why stem cells behave the way they do and trying determine how cell behavior can be directed for safe and effective clinical use.

In addition to laboratory work, Knoepfler has encouraged patient advocacy and public awareness about stem cell science. Earlier this year, he created his own annual “Stem Cell Person of the Year” award to recognize people who have made an outstanding difference in the field of stem cell-based cellular and regenerative medicine. The honor included a $1,000 check, which Knoepfler funded himself to help create more excitement about stem cell science. He also recently completed a new book, Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide, which will be published later this summer.

Knoepfler will be sharing the spotlight with several other highly regarded honorees on December 5 at the World Stem Cell Summit: Denny Sanford and Malin Burnham will receive Leadership awards for their generous philanthropic support in health care and medical research that, for example, was instrumental in the advancement of the Sanford-Burnham Institute; Mary Ann Liebert will be recognized with an Education Award for establishing a publishing company that includes numerous science and biomedical research journals; and Roman Reed will be honored with GPI’s Inspiration Award for being a guiding force in raising more than $100 million in stem cell research funding.

UC Davis is playing a leading role in regenerative medicine, with nearly 150 scientists working on a variety of stem cell-related research projects at campus locations in both Davis and Sacramento. The UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, a facility supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), opened in 2010 on the Sacramento campus. This $62 million facility is the university's hub for stem cell science. It includes Northern California's largest academic Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory, with state-of-the-art equipment and manufacturing rooms for cellular and gene therapies. UC Davis also has a Translational Human Embryonic Stem Cell Shared Research Facility in Davis and a collaborative partnership with the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine at Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California. All of the programs and facilities complement the university's Clinical and Translational Science Center, and focus on turning stem cells into cures. For more information, visit