The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

March 9, 2005

Mini Medical School To Focus On Stem Cells, Gene Therapy

The University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine will host in April a new, four-session Mini Medical School course, "Infinite Journey: Progress, Promise and Pitfalls Along the Road to Scientific Discovery," on the UI health sciences campus.

The Mini Medical School sessions will be from 7 to 9 p.m. April 5, 12, 19 and 26 in the Dr. Prem Sahai Auditorium in the Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF). Mini Medical School is free of charge and open to the public, but is limited to the first 250 registrants. Registration is for all four Mini Medical School sessions. Additional information and registration is available online at or by phone at 319-335-8886. Parking is available in the Newton Road parking ramp across the street from MERF.

Mini Medical School is designed for anyone who is curious about medicine and the scientific basis of health and disease. No science or medical educational background is needed to take part in the program.

Attendees for the April sessions will learn about the practice and ethics of stem cells research; advances in gene therapy; and the development of clinical trials to test new drugs and treatments. For the April 26 session, attendees will take part in activities similar to those experienced by UI medical students.

Following is the Mini Medical School schedule:

April 5: Stem Cell Research: Sorting Out the Hype from the Hope

"Stem Cells - How a Sheep Named Dolly Gave Us Something to Talk About," Amy Sparks, Ph.D., research scientist and director of the in vitro fertilization and reproductive testing laboratories in the UI Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Sparks also holds an appointment in the UI Department of Urology.

"Stem Cells from the Skin," Jackie Bickenbach, Ph.D., associate professor in the UI Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

"Ethical Options Regarding Research with Human Embryonic Stem Cells," Robert Weir, Ph.D., the Richard M. Caplan Endowed Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities, and a professor in the UI Department of Pediatrics.

April 12: Gene in a Bottle: Preventing and Treating Genetic Disease Using Gene Therapy

"The Nuts and Bolts of Molecular Medicine," John Engelhardt, Ph.D., professor  and interim head of the UI Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. He also serves as director of the Center for Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis and Other Genetic Diseases and holds an appointment in the UI Department of Internal Medicine.

"Progress in Gene Therapy for Muscular Dystrophy," Kevin Campbell, Ph.D., the  Roy J. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in Physiology and Biophysics, and  interim head of the department. He also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and a faculty member in the UI Department of Neurology.

April 19: Trial and Error:  Clinical Trials and Drug Development

"The Contract Between the Company and the University (or Venus and Mars),"  Charlotte Talman, director of the UI Clinical Trials Office.

"How Are You Protected from Becoming a 'Human Guinea Pig' in Medical Research?" Martha Jones, co-chair of the Institutional Review Board and director of the UI Human Subjects Office.

"Phases of Clinical Trials," Mary Teresi, Pharm.D., director of pediatric allergy/pulmonary clinical trials and coordinator of the Iowa City Center of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutic Development Network.

"Clinical Trials and the FDA: An Investigator's View," Richard Ahrens, M.D., professor in the UI Department of Pediatrics.

April 26: Inside the Student Experience

Mini Medical School attendees will register to participate in two of four activities:

-- Working with patient-actors to take medical histories and diagnose illness;

-- Participating in a mock operating room experience

-- Taking part in a tutorial on finding reliable medical information online taught by librarians from the Hardin Library for Health Sciences

-- Discovering the Writing Program and listening to medical students read from their creative writings

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032, Program: Karen Butler, 319-335-7855,