Signals Blog

Welcome to the official launch of the first StemCellShorts video: “What is a stem cell?” narrated by stem cell research great Dr. Jim Till. Join us again on October 11 and 25 for the online premieres of two more videos in the series.

Anyone who has spent time searching the Internet for quality educational materials will no doubt have encountered these common problems: there’s loads of stuff out there; not all of it is particularly good, current or accurate; the format and length may not be appropriate; and it may have a different focus than what you’re looking for (i.e. has commercial interests or is targeted at a narrow audience).

This is certainly true of online information pertaining to stem cell science, so when the Stem Cell Network offered a Public Outreach Award to help create educational or lay-friendly resources for public consumption, a colleague, Mike Long and I embarked on the creation of StemCellShorts.

StemCellShorts is a series of  animated videos, roughly one-minute in length, that answers basic questions about stem cell research. Important to the success and academic credibility of the pieces, we decided to have each piece narrated by a prominent Canadian stem cell researcher. We are proud to launch the first video today, focusing on answering the questions “What is a stem cell?”. The piece is narrated by, arguably the most famous Canadian stem cell researcher, Dr. Jim Till.

Dr. Till had this to say about the project, “I felt that it was important to contribute to “What is a stem cell” because of the fortuitous involvement of Dr. Ernest McCulloch and myself in what turned out to be the foundation of a new field of experimental stem cell research. I also hoped that my participation might possibly increase, to some extent, interest in the video.” — Dr. Jim Till, Professor Emeritus, Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto

Two more videos, “What are embryonic stem cells?” narrated by Dr. Janet Rossant, and “What are induced pluripotent stem cells?” narrated by Dr. Mick Bhatia will be released on October 11th and 25th (respectively) and will be screened at the Till & McCulloch Meetings in Banff on October 24. We are also happy to announce that we have received a second round of funding from the Stem Cell Network that is being matched by the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation as a partner. These funds will be used to create an additional five videos in a similar style and format as the initial three, and are scheduled to be released in 2014.

Read post 2 in this release series.

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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 (, 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.