IGI/Corn Lab Postdoc Mark DeWitt has been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship through the CIRM Training Program. Mark will be leveraging IGI’s expertise in genetic manipulation to develop novel methods for editing human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to develop effective treatments for genetic blood diseases. In adults, HSCs are the ultimate progenitors of all blood cells, and any genetic manipulation in a patient’s HSCs will become permanently reflected in their blood and bone marrow, including their red blood cells. As a CIRM fellow, Mark will be developing methods of editing HSCs to correct the genetic mutation that causes sickle cell disease (SCD), and these methods may form the basis for a cure for SCD by autologous bone marrow transplant. SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affects nearly 100,000 individuals in the US (predominantly African-American) and millions more worldwide.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), California’s Stem Cell Agency, was created in 2004 by California’s Proposition 71, which authorized $3 billion in funding for stem cell research in California. The agency funds stem cell research at institutions throughout California with the goal of developing new therapies for deadly diseases and disorders.