2001 Route 28 Summit Topic
The Id of Stem Cells
Redefining stem cell plasticity and identity for CNS repair
The 2001 Summit Topic
" Super-ego, ego and id, then, are the three realms, regions or provinces into which we divide the mental apparatus of the individual… One might compare the relations of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse [id] provides the locomotive energy, and the rider [ego] has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it."
"Naturally, the id knows no values, no good and evil, no morality."
From LECTURE XXXI (1932) "The Anatomy of the Mental Personality" by Sigmund Freud
Science is the art of categorizing based on perceived attributes and Freud tackled the complexities of personality by dividing the psyche into Super-ego, ego and id. In it's simplest form, the id is the sum of all potentials that are possible for a given individual. Stem cells might also have personalities that are determined by the interplay of ego and id-like processes at the cellular level. For the sake of argument, the id of stem cells might be described as the range of potentials allowed at any given point in time. To a biologist of course, this would be determined by the status of the genome. The super-ego then may be the environmental influence and it's molding and editing of id's outward expression or ego.
The genome is intrinsically "totipotent". It carries all of the genetic information necessary for the derivation of an individual. Achieving this potential, however, requires precise regulation. At any point in time, only the appropriate portions of the genome's repertoire are expressed. Even the fertilized egg, the archetype of the totipotent stem cell, expresses only the genes necessary for its immediate functions. What then regulates function? In the context of stem cells and their use in CNS repair, what defines the range of functions a given cell can achieve? Can this repertoire be modified? If so, how?
The id of a stem cell (or nearly any cell for that matter) at one extreme allows it to be totipotent. The entire genome is available. However, the outward expression of this potential is defined by both intrinsic and environmental influences. In injury or disease, how does the local environment of the brain influence resident stem cells?
The 2001 workshop will focus on several disease and injury models. Each injury produces unique challenges to using stem cells for repair. These may range from the affected cell types or networks and the local environment to the presence or absence of endogenous stem cells in an affected region.
Each Faculty Member brings a particular expertise to the workshop and their goals are to describe the biology behind the injury. If it's not clear after their talk, you might ask: How does the disease or insult cause the injury? What is the time course? How does the local environment change during this progression? What happens to stem cells in this environment? What type of cell would be most useful for transplantation? Will it be necessary to interfere with local signaling to achieve the desired goal?
To help you become familiar with the research area of each speaker, we have chosen several references from portions of their work that may be relevant to the workshop topic. These references are listed below and provide a starting point for the more speculative discussions that will follow at the workshop. The faculty will provide additional references at the workshop.