About Us

OptiStem is an EU-funded research project that brings together stem cell biologists and clinical experts from across Europe. We are investigating stem cells in skeletal muscle and epithelia. The project began on 1st March 2009 and will run for five years.

Our research aims to develop and implement clinical trials that use stem cells from adult tissues to treat degenerative diseases of epithelia and skeletal muscle.

Our 18 partner institutions come from six European countries:

Our scientists have expertise in clinical experimentation, pre-clinical tests and the cell biology of stem cells.

Partner institutions


Institut nationale de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM)
Pasteur Institute


Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Miltenyi Biotec GmBH


E. Medea Scientific Institute
FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology Foundation
MolMed S.p.A.
San Rafaelle del Monte Tabor Foundation
University of Milan
University of Modena



University Pompeu Fabra


Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois CHUV
Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne


Cancer Research UK
Dando & Colucci LLC
King’s College London
University of Edinburgh
University of Oxford

Principal Investigators

The OptiStem Principal Investigators are:

photo Name Institute
Ariane Rochat Department of Experimental Surgery, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV)
Clare Blackburn MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Institute for Stem Cell Research, University of Edinburgh
Claudio Bordignon MOLMED S.p.A
David Sassoon Petié Salpêtrière Medical School, INSERM
Elisabetta Dejana FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology Foundation
Emilio Clementi Pharmacology Unit, E. Medea Scientific Institute
Fabio Ciceri Department of Oncology, San Raffaele Hospital
Fiona Watt Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Kings College London
Freddy Radtke Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Giulio Cossu Stem Cell Research Institute, San Rafaelle Institute of Milan, University of Milan
Jacques Demotes INSERM, ECRIN
Kathryn Wood Nuffield Department of Surgery, University of Oxford
Margaret Buckingham Department of Developmental Biology, Pasteur Institute
Michele de Luca Center for Regenerative Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Olaf Hardt Miltenyi Biotec GmbH
Pete Zammit Randall Division of Cell & Molecular Biophysics, King’s College London
Pura Muñoz-Cánoves Cell Biology Group, University Pompeu Fabra
Regina Becker Helmholtz-Zentrum fuer Infektionsforschung GmbH, EATRIS
Shahragim Tajbakhsh Department of Developmental Biology, Pasteur Institute
Yann Barrandon Laboratory of Stem Cell Dynamic, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Yvan Torrente Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Milan

Related projects

We work closely with other EU-funded stem cell research projects. We believe that working together will help drive scientific progress. We collaborate on training, scientific meetings and events for the public.

The European Consortium for Communicating Stem Cell Research
EuroStemCell communicates the latest stem cell science to a wide range of audiences, providing tailored information for researchers and non-scientists. Its website - www.eurostemcell.org - is a European portal for information on stem cells and regenerative medicine. The site includes FAQs, commentaries on the latest developments in stem cell science and a series of award-winning stem cell films for the non-specialist. It offers expert commentary, a technical discussion forum and opportunities for everyone to contribute their own comments.



European Consortium for Stem Cell Therapy in Neurodegenerative Diseases
NeuroStemcell combines the expertise of 13 academic partners and three small-to-medium businesses from six countries. Its research focuses on stem-cell-based therapies for Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.


European Federation for Systematic Stem Cell Biology
EuroSyStem is a partnership of 25 research groups in eight countries. Its researchers come from 14 academic institutions and two small-to-medium businesses. The project aims to answer fundamental questions about how stem cells work.


Advances with human embryonic stem cells
ESTOOLS brings together 21 academic and commercial research teams. The group is investigating the biology of human embryonic stem cells and the molecular circuitry that governs their differentiation into more specialized cell types.


Activation of vasculature associated stem cells and muscle stem cells for the repair and maintenance of muscle tissue
EndoStem is a partnership of European researchers focussed on skeletal muscle stem cells. The project is investigating how muscle stem cells behave in chronic disease and aging, and how this knowledge might be applied to develop treatments.