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Graduate Student Travis Block Works on Stem Cell Research

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Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Meet The Researcher | Biomedical Engineering (Ph.D.) | July 31, 2015

Travis Block is currently working in Dr. Xiao-Dong Chen’s lab to obtain better populations of stem cells.

“The idea is that if we can find cells that are “stronger,” we can improve the efficacy of existing stem cell therapies and maybe enable brand new ones,” Block said. “It’s easy to feel passionate about the work I’m doing because I have a mentor whose focus is always on how our research can help patients.”

Block was recently selected along with Elizabeth Fucich, Mariam Ishaque, and Huynh (Nancy) Nga for the prestigious Translational Science Training (TST) TL1 Scholar Award, from the UTHSCSA’s Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS).

“The award gives me flexibility to pursue some ideas with my project that I, otherwise, might not have,” Block said.

Block plans to travel to conferences such as the World Stem Cell Summit and the Association for Clinical and Translational Science to talk about his work and learn about other ideas from researchers in his field.

“I just got back from the Gordon Conference on the Biology of Aging, and it was a really great experience,” Block said. “I had the opportunity to share my work with labs from around the world, and I got some interesting ideas from other groups that I plan to incorporate into my project.”

One of the ways he is able to innovate is by talking through every experiment with Dr. Chen, and Milos Marinkovic, another grad student in his lab.

“We all think about things very differently, and its resulted in some really unique ideas,” Block said. “I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to learn from both of them, and to take advantage of their knowledge and creativity in my project.”

Block hopes that his research improves the clinical outcomes of stem cell treatments.

“I think that my work has a lot of potential for translation, and I hope that my project can be implemented in industry and the clinic,” Block said. “More broadly, I hope that when other scientists see my work it encourages them to look at problems from a different perspective.”

This article is part of the "Meet The Researcher" series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. 

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