University of Massachusetts Medical School Names Joseph C. Laning To Head Human Stem Cell Bank And Registry

Published: Oct 01, 2010

WORCESTER, Mass. – An industry expert with extensive experience in stem cell research and development, Joseph C. Laning, PhD, has been named the senior director of the Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). Developed in partnership with and funded by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Human Stem Cell Bank is poised to provide the biomedical research community with expertly derived and maintained human embryonic stem cell lines for fundamental biological investigation and therapeutic applications. The Human Stem Cell Registry offers a searchable, comprehensive database that includes published and validated information on every human embryonic stem cell line derived to date.

“Dr. Laning’s research and development experience, coupled with his industry and corporate expertise, makes him the ideal person for implementing our vision of a nationally and internationally recognized Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry that can be a resource to scientists around the world,” said John L. Sullivan, MD, vice provost for research and professor of pediatrics and molecular medicine.

“We are pleased and excited that UMass has recruited such a qualified person to lead the next phase of development for the Human Stem Cell Bank & Registry,” said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. “Stem cell research and regenerative medicine are evolving at a rapid pace and represent key areas of innovation in life sciences. We look forward to Dr. Laning’s leadership in charting the path forward for this important investment by the Life Sciences Center and maximizing its value to the life sciences community.”

Prior to joining UMass Medical School, Dr. Laning was senior director of cell and analytical biology at ViaCell Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company focused on research and development of adult stem cells to treat cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. At ViaCell, he led the company’s research and development efforts, which focused on preclinical and clinical testing for hematopoietic and cardiac programs, as well as establishing novel methods for testing and validating stem cell production. Laning has also published extensively on the role of immune response composition and modulation in transplantation. Prior to joining ViaCell, Laning was associate director of research at Amaranth Bio Inc., and research manager for immunobiology at Organogenesis. He received his PhD in immunology from Harvard University in 1995.

“I’m excited to be joining an institution that believes fully in the value of translational medicine,” said Laning. “The potential to connect scientific discovery to new therapeutics is a vision that UMass Medical School is strongly invested in and is what drew me here. I believe the Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry can play an important role in the development of new therapeutics both at UMMS and nationally.”

As senior director of the Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry, Laning will focus on acquiring stem cell lines from academic and commercial sources, and ensuring the quality and standards of lines distributed to researchers. “Our aim is to provide the highest quality cellular tools possible and in the process relieve individual scientists of the burden of manufacturing cell lines themselves, and allow them instead to focus on their research,” said Laning. “Additionally, having the bank and registry under one roof allows us to be a resource for and provide guidance to scientists about which cell lines might be most applicable to their experiments.”

An early component of Governor Deval Patrick’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, the Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry was established in 2008 in conjunction with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Since then, the Center has committed nearly $9.4 million to the Bank and Registry, helping to position Massachusetts at the forefront of stem cell research. Housed at the Medical School’s Shrewsbury campus, it occupies a 15,000-square-foot facility with research and training space, and maintains human and reprogrammed stem cell lines for use in related research, as well as a database of published and validated information on human stem cell lines that is accessible to researchers worldwide.

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $255 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (“the Center”) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit

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