Human stem cells for drug discovery

Abstract: Dr Nicola Beer heads up the Department of Stem Cell Engineering at the Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford. Her team uses human stem cells to derive metabolically-relevant cells and tissues such as islets, hepatocytes, and adipocytes to discover novel secreted factors and corresponding signalling pathways which modify cell function, health, and viability. By combining in vitro-differentiated human stem cell-derived models with CRISPR and other genomic targeting techniques, the team assay cell function from changes in a single gene up to a genome-wide scale. Understanding the genes and pathways underlying cell function (and dysfunction) highlights potential targets for new Type 2 Diabetes therapeutics. Dr Beer will talk about the work ongoing in her team, as well as more broadly about the role of human stem cells in drug discovery and patient treatment.

Short bio: Dr Nicola Beer is Head of the Department of Stem Cell Engineering at the Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford. Prior to joining Novo Nordisk, Nicola was a Naomi Berrie Fellow in Diabetes within the group of Professorss McCarthy and Gloyn at the University of Oxford, and prior to that was a Fulbright-Diabetes UK Post-Doctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Professor David Altshuler in the Medical and Population Genetics Program at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. She conducted her PhD in Clinical Medicine in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism (OCDEM) under the supervision of Professors Anna Gloyn and Patrik Rorsman, and has also spent time working in the laboratory of Professor Francis Collins at the National Institutes of Health (MD, USA) and the Cardiovascular and Gastrointestinal Drug Discovery department of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.