Right Turn: New StemCellShorts illuminates cancer stem cells

Author: Ben Paylor, 10/24/14

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Just over one year ago, we launched the pilot phase of an animation project titled StemCellShorts here on Signals blog. Funded by a Stem Cell Network Public Outreach Award, the project was very much an experiment for us to see what would happen when you tasked a team of talented creatives, expert faculty and some eager graduate students with a public engagement challenge. With almost 40,000 online views over the last year and awards from several major international science communication competitions (including a feature in the February 2014 issue of Science), the reception of the project has definitely been bigger than we anticipated.

Having launched the fourth video in the series – What is stem cell tourism? Narrated by Professor Timothy Caulfield – at a public forum before this summer’s International Society for Stem Cell Research annual meeting in Vancouver, we’re proud to launch two more videos for this year’s Till and McCulloch Meetings (#TMM2014) in Ottawa. Moving from our initial focus on basic biological questions about stem cells, the next four videos focus on tissue specific cell types and their clinical applications.

Today, we are excited to premiere the next instalment in the series – What is a cancer stem cell? Narrated by Dr. John Dick – illustrating a fairly simple concept that implicates stem cells in both the initiation and the endurance of cancer. The development of drugs and therapies that target specific cancer cells is an area of intense research, and we are lucky to have such talented researchers such as Dr. Dick advancing these towards clinical realities.

We will launch the next video – What is a retinal stem cell? Narrated by Dr. Derek van der Kooy – very soon, stay tuned!

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Ben Paylor

Ben Paylor

Ben Paylor completed a Bachelor of Medical Science at the University of Western Ontario, which included a 1-year research exchange to Umea in Northern Sweden. Following his Bachelors, he completed a 2-year Masters of Philosophy in Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Experimental Medicine program under the supervision of Dr. Fabio Rossi at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on understanding the role of tissue-resident mesenchymal progenitors in repair processes of the heart. Outside of science, Ben is an avid pianist and tennis player, as well as being very interested in the field of science communication and policy.  The writer and director of several award-winning science films, Ben is also the co-founder and director of InfoShots (www.infoshots.com), a science-based animation studio that is currently producing the Stem Cell Network's StemCellShorts series. Ben is the Chair of the Trainee Communications Committee at the Stem Cell Network, sits on the National Advisory Committee of the high school outreach program StemCellTalks and is a 2012/13 Action Canada fellow.
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