I am at Madison Area Technical College (MATC) in Madison, Wisconsin this week for a stem cell training. MATC recently got a fabulous new building where their one stop welcome center is located.
Their new Advanced Cell Culture Education Suite was completed in 2013 and is 2700 square feet of lab space. The stem cell program at MATC is run by Dr. Tom Tubon, who also organized this stem cell training for faculty. The tissue culture lab has seven hoods, four incubators, and several inverted microscopes. Since it is a teaching lab, Dr. Tubon uses AirPlay and iPads in the hoods so he can demonstrate techniques and watch students (up to four at a time) while they work.
We worked with iPS(IMR90) feeder independent human stem cells from WiCell. These are induced pluripotent stem cells that come from male foreskin. They are also feeder independent cells, which is where the entire industry is moving right now. The advantage is that you are not mixing species so clinical applications become more possible. (Human stem cells have traditionally been grown on a mouse cell feeder layer.) We spent the day maintaining and splitting the cells to prepare them for a differentiation experiment. These cells can be coaxed to become myocardial cells. The whole process takes two weeks, so we will get our results emailed to us after the class is done.
In terms of maintenance, one of the things we learned was how to pick off areas of differentiation to keep the colonies pluripotent. Dr. Tubon said their industry partners really want their new hires to know how to make a drawn pick and use it to clean their plates of differentiated cells.