Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lights…Camera…Stem Cells! Filming the 2011 CIRM Grantee Meeting

Todd Dubnicoff is CIRM’s videographer and video editor

No family reunion is complete until somebody brings out the video camera. Our CIRM family is no different. So my colleague Amy Adams and I went on-location to downtown San Francisco in mid-September to film the 2011 CIRM Grantee Meeting. This almost annual, three day event brings together the California stem cell scientists and trainees who receive CIRM funding (several international collaborators were also in attendance as well as out-of-state guest speakers).

Though the scientists produce research results back in their labs at their home institutions, getting the chance to discuss those results in person with fellow stem cell researchers can spark new discoveries. Eugene Brandon of ViaCyte, Inc. explained that:
One of the great things about the CIRM Grantee Meeting is that I can meet with other people that are working on related research that I wouldn’t necessarily come across otherwise. In talking to these people, sometimes our team gets ideas that we could add to our work that might make our work better; that might make the product we’re working on better.
Face-to-face meetings also foster new collaborations. As Dennis Clegg of UC Santa Barbara pointed out:
"There are lots of opportunities to network and establish collaborations. A lot of the collaborations that we have going were established at this meeting”
To capture the palpable excitement of the event on film, we roamed the meeting hall to record quick “person-on-the-street” video interviews with several CIRM grantees. Most scientists aren’t particularly eager to jump in front of the camera lens, but once the videotape began rolling they delivered impressive impromptu responses. We interviewed graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and senior scientists about their work developing therapies for a wide range of diseases.

To create the video I distilled 100 minutes of footage down to three-minutes that capture the mood and excitement of the meeting. I think it highlights well how our extended CIRM family is working together to accelerate the development of stem cell based treatments for chronic disease and injury. Pat Olson, CIRM’s Executive Director of Scientific Activities, summed it up best:
When scientists work together it helps move the science forward faster and ultimately that benefits patients and science”
And just like your typical family reunion, everyone was sad to say their goodbyes and yet they were excited to return home to try out that new “recipe” idea, and they looked forward to the next get together.

Note: In addition to the 3-minute piece, you can also view eight bonus videos from the meeting that give slightly more detailed explanations of various CIRM-funded projects. Also, last month we posted video recordings of Craig Venter’s keynote address and John Wagner’s closing scientific talk. Video of the Target Product Profile Workshop that was led by Ellen Feigal, CIRM’s Senior VP of R&D, will be posted soon.

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