Paul Knoepfler, associate professor of cell biology and human anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine, was honored this week at the World Stem Cell Summit in San Diego for his stem cell advocacy and awareness efforts.
Knoepfler, who also is an associate investigator at the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine at ShrinersHospital for Children Northern California, received this year’s 'National Advocacy Award' from the Genetics Policy Institute. He writes a well-known stem cell blog, which is a platform for explaining the complexities of regenerative medicine as well as way to advocate on behalf of those interested in stem cell treatments.
In a special supplement to Stem Cells and Development, Knoepfler writes in the article "Key Action Items for the Stem Cell Field Looking to 2014" about building momentum behind stem cells, both for their impact as transformative basic-science discoveries and their potential for translation to clinical medicine.
At the same time, he outlines several critical challenges, including "stem cell tourism," the complex balance between innovation and regulatory/FDA compliance, and the need to educate physicians and patients about stem cell therapies.
Knoepfler’s research at his lab in Sacramento focuses on 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 research, Knoepfler has encouraged patient advocacy and public awareness about stem cell science. 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 includes a $1,000 check, which Knoepfler funds himself to help create more excitement about stem cell science.
He is also the author of a new book about regenerative medicine, Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide, which was published earlier this year.