January 26, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Our Educational Mission on The Niche Stem Cell Blog

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Our mission here on The Niche is primarily educational. We aim to make a transformative difference in educating readers across the globe about stem cells, regenerative medicine, and innovative biomedical science more generally including CRISPR gene editing.

Part of that mission involves fact-checking various medical claims about stem cells and other biologics like PRP and exosomes. Another part is battling science and medical hype.

What is The Niche blog?

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Stem cell symbol has become an emblem of The Niche and its mission.

The Niche has a global audience and recently surpassed 10 million page views. It is widely considered the top blog about stem cells and regenerative medicine in the world.

In addition to important news items, our primary author Dr. Paul Knoepfler, Ph.D. also writes a variety of other pieces including viewpoints and interviews that have strong, positive impact.

One more specific objective of The Niche is to help people make more educated decisions about potential stem cell therapies for themselves or their families.

Ask questions.

Talk to your primary care doctors and scientists who do not have conflicts of interest.

Do your homework.

You can even email Dr. Knoepfler with your question as well. KnoepflerATucdavisDOTedu.

Educational mission regarding the unproven stem cell clinic problem

Paul Knoepfler, TED talk, CRISPR, designer babies
Dr. Paul Knoepfler, Ph.D. giving his TED talk on designer babies. It has been viewed about 1.5 million times.

Dr. Knoepfler has been educating people about the problem of unproven stem cell clinics for almost a decade. These clinics, which may now number 1,000 in the U.S. alone, sell expensive, non-FDA approved injections for a whole host of medical problems.

He has been a leading voice globally in countering these clinics for the past decade and steering the public away from these risky, sometimes snake-oil operations.

In addition to blogging about these clinics and fielding hundreds of patient emails and phone calls, Knoepfler also has been consistently publishing academic papers about this serious problem in parallel to publishing his lab’s basic research on stem cells and cancer.

While The Niche’s mission is to educate, the standard unproven stem cell clinic mission is kind of the opposite: to profit from patients by encouraging them to take risks on their health, most often without good science to back it up.

Our blog also serves to fact check key claims related to stem cells, whether they are made by clinics, in research papers that may contain hype, or in statements by scientists or physicians to the media.

He also gave a TED talk on CRISPR gene-editing use in humans including potentially for designer babies. It has been viewed more than 1.5 million times as of late 2020.

Concrete positive outcomes including Google ad policy, FDA steps

Knoepfler’s paper in 2016 with Leigh Turner in Cell Stem Cell has been cited almost 250 times and has had enormous impact. This publication for the first time included a collection of data on the number and types of clinics, finding 570 clinic locations back in 2015-2016.

The paper served as a real wake-up call to the FDA and state medical boards, which have since become far more engaged. The FDA has dramatically increased the number of letters it has been sending to unproven clinics.

This paper also seems to have had a major role in getting the ball rolling on Google’s relatively new policy banning ads for stem cell clinics and other firms seeking to profit off of unproven biomedical offerings.

A go-to international expert for media

More broadly, Knoepfler and The Niche are the go-to sources internationally for journalists working on stories on stem cells. He is quoted numerous times in top media outlets every year including the NY Times, the WaPo, the LA Times, the BBC, NPR, STAT News, and more.

He is also the author of three popular science books in the last 6 years including on stem cells and CRISPR.

Stem cells in your language

One of the other exciting global projects Dr. Knoepfler has done through The Niche is an educational effort to disseminate factual information on stem cells to a wide international audience. This global educational outreach program has a stem cell white paper written by him available in 34 languages at no cost to anyone. The Spanish language page alone has been read more than 680,000 times. The Indonesian page has been read more than 300,000 times, and several others are above 200,000 reads.

Our Mission Looking to the Future

Overall, The Niche has been a tireless advocate for responsible biomedical science, both engaging with other scientists, physicians and regulators, but also with the public in a unique, powerful way. We will continue working toward achieving our mission for years to come in the future.

As part of this evolving mission, Dr. Knoepfler has brought in additional authoritative authors to contribute to The Niche including most recently internationally-respected science writer, Ricki Lewis.

This site has also had over 10,000 comments on various posts and pages. Looking to the future, we will continue to serve as a unique global forum for discussions about stem cells, regenerative medicine, and other innovative technologies like CRISPR, exosomes, and more.