Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Patients and medical professionals may call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information.


J. Peter Rubin, M.D.
J. Peter Rubin, M.D.

Stem Cells From Fat Focus Of International Fat Applied Technology Society Meeting In Pittsburgh Oct. 4-5

PITTSBURGH, September 27, 2004 Researchers from around the world are gathering in Pittsburgh Oct. 4 5 to discuss the potential therapeutic uses of stem cells derived from fat the kind discarded everyday from tummy tucks, liposuction, body contouring and other common cosmetic procedures.

At the Second Annual Meeting of the International Fat Applied Technology Society (IFATS), being held at the Sheraton at Station Square, scientific sessions will explore how adipose tissue, or fat, can be an abundant source of stem cells that could be used for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. An important outcome of the meeting will be a consensus statement that will define key scientific questions for future study and determine the fields most promising clinical applications.

Targeting Fat for Therapy: New Opportunities for Translational Research and Clinical Treatment will be a forum for new research findings, including reports that demonstrate for the first time that adipose-derived stem cells can become bone marrow and smooth muscle cells, and preliminary results from what is believed to be the only human clinical trial using fat stem cells. The study, taking place in Spain, involves Crohns disease patients who received their own cells to promote closure of a fistula, an external opening leading from the small bowel.

The use of stem cells to treat disease or regenerate tissue is believed to hold promise because of their potential to develop into different specialized cell types. While many ethical and legal issues currently limit investigating

the possible merits of embryonic stem cells, which are limited in supply, much focus has fallen on adult stem cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood and other sources, including fat, which offers an almost unlimited source.

In 2001, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pittsburgh first reported that stem cells could be isolated from adipose tissue removed during liposuction. Since then, researchers in the laboratory have suggested adipose-derived stem cells can be coaxed into new fat tissue, bone, cartilage, nerve, muscle and endothelial cells. In animal studies, these cells show potential for treatment of heart attack, stroke or bone injury.

While such studies have been encouraging, several questions remain. Among the key questions even those in the field are asking and that will be discussed at the meeting are: Will success in the lab necessarily mean successful outcomes for people? Are these cells isolated from fat really stem cells? Is all fat the same or does one kind offer a better source of cells than others?

To assist reporters interested in covering the meeting, a staffed press room will be available on site and informal press briefings will be scheduled as follows. Please note that reporters may participate in Tuesdays 12:15 p.m. briefing via conference call.

Monday, Oct. 4

10:30 a.m.
Wheres the proof: Can fat-derived stem cells repair nerves and treat neurological disease?

Henry Rice, M.D., Duke University fat stem cells and their differentiation into neurons

Kacey Marra, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh fat stem cells for peripheral nerve repair

Kevin Lee, Ph.D., University of Virginia fate of cells in the central nervous system

1:30 p.m.
New findings: Studies indicate differentiation into bone marrow and smooth muscle cells

Rei Ogawa, Ph.D., Nippon University, Tokyo first demonstration of differentiation into bone marrow and the potential for treating blood and bone marrow diseases

Rong Zhang, Ph.D., UCLA first demonstration of differentiation into smooth muscle cells and the potential for treating urinary incontinence

Adam Katz, M.D., University of Virginia perspectives and significance

Tuesday, Oct. 5

10:30 a.m.
Potential for cardiac repair: Treating heart attacks with stem cells from fat

Marc Hedrick, M.D., MacroPore Biosurgery pre-clinical studies of cardiovascular applications

Kai Pinkernell, M.D., Tulane University bone marrow versus fat stem cells - pre-clinical studies

12:15 p.m.
Where is the greatest promise for fat stem cells?
IFATS consensus statement and report on the only human trial

J. Peter Rubin, M.D., University of Pittsburgh moderator

Patricia Zuk, Ph.D., UCLA biology of fat-derived stem cells

Jeffrey M. Gimble, M.D., Ph.D., Louisiana State University research methods and design

Keith March, M.D., Ph.D., Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine clinical opportunities

Prof. Damian Garcia-Olmo, University of Madrid phase I trial for the treatment of Crohns fistula

NOTE: This briefing is available via conference call. Dial 800-860-2442 and indicate to the operator that you wish to participate in the fat stem cell briefing.

IFATS, the only interdisciplinary fat tissue society, is dedicated to facilitating the development of new technology derived from and directed toward adipose tissue. The societys current scientific areas of interest include facilitating the development of treatments for excess body fat, generation of new fat tissue for reconstruction after cancer or birth-related defects and the use of adipose tissue as a source of stem cells that have the potential to regenerate and repair different tissues in the body.

J. Peter Rubin, M.D., assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, co-director of the Aesthetic Surgery Center and director of the Life After Weight Loss Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is the societys current president. The scientific program chair is Adam Katz, M.D., assistant professor of plastic surgery and director, Laboratory of Applied Developmental Plasticity, at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The scientific program is available at

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |