By Dan Fost
Source: UCSF Stem Cell Center
The simple worm piqued the budding young scientist's interest in developmental biology. "I loved it," he says.
Robert Blelloch, MD, PhD (pictured above with Dr. Marcelle Cedars), followed that passion through fellowships and into work with blood stem cells. "It was so exciting to see how many different ways blood stem cells were being used to treat patients," he says.
Stem cells also proved to be his route into UCSF, where, although his specialty was pathology, he ended up with an appointment in urology as well, tackling prostate cancer. That's life at UCSF, where it seems that nearly every department works with every other department.
"Nothing happens here through a single program," Blelloch says, seated at his desk in the new Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building. "Every principal investigator in this building has a second appointment" in another department, he says.
Blelloch works with colleagues in many different fields:
"These collaborations make a point that stem cells can teach us a lot about many diseases," Blelloch says. "For example, you could argue that cancer is basically a bad stem cell. Understanding what makes a bad stem cell– and what a bad stem cell does – gives us a lot of ideas of how to follow and treat cancer."
Blelloch sees tremendous benefits in having his research lab so close to UCSF's world-class medical center. "We can maintain a basic science group of faculty with the desire to take that basic science as quickly as possible to the clinic," he says.