Neurons growing from marmoset embryonic stem cells in Marina Emborg's Preclinical Parkinson's disease research lab (S. Vermilyea image)

Stem Cell Learning Lab

Our Stem Cell Learning Lab was made possible in 2008 by a grant from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment. Through this effort, we seek to build a greater understanding of stem cell research and regenerative medicine into school and community science outreach programs.

Through this free, hands-on experience in our lab at the Biotechnology Center, learners view real stem cells under the microscope and use the same equipment and methods our researchers use to prepare and grow their cells. Our participants use realistic cell and media substitutes due to cost and biosafety restrictions. Please contact us to arrange your class or group visit. (Suitable for middle school and up. 22-person limit per group. More than that is very crowded and then we can’t guarantee hands-on time for everyone for all activities.)

Our outreach programs tap into many existing science outreach programs, including Science Expeditions, the Wisconsin Science Festival, Grandparents University, and UW-Extension 4-H Youth Development. Our Stem Cell Learning Lab is a collaboration among the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine CenterBiotechnology Center, WiCell, Student Society for Stem Cell Research (SSSCR) and Wisconsin Stem Cell Roundtable (WiSCR).

TED Talk video still

What are stem cells? TED-Ed video and curriculum produced September 2013 by Craig A. Kohn and the UW-Madison Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center. (With lesson plans updated in 2019 for teachers!)

Mimi video still

In this educational video, Mimi Gerner, who was a research specialist in the lab of David Gamm, M.D., Ph.D., describes basic stem cell culture techniques. (Produced by the UW-Madison Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center, September 2012.)

Did you know?

James Thomson, PhD, from UW–Madison was the first in the world to grow monkey and then human embryonic stem cells, in the 1990s. His colleagues at UW–Madison then grew some of the first types of differentiated cells from those stem cells, such as skin cells (Lynn Allen-Hoffmann, PhD) neurons (Su-Chun Zhang, PhD), retinal cells (David Gamm, MD, PhD) and cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells (Timothy Kamp, MD, PhD). Dr. Kamp’s heart cells even came together and started to beat in the lab dish just like a real heart!

Here are some more cool beating heart cell videos:

UW–Madison stem cell history:

Latest UW–Madison stem cell news, events and opportunities:

Kidney cells as viewed on a lab monitor connected to a microscope

In this educational 2022 video, Casey Ostheimer shows how she passages kidney cells in Owen Tamplin’s Cell and Regenerative Biology lab at UW–Madison. (See a glossary for this video.)