This meeting is focussed on the mechanisms controlling stem cells throughout life. The presentations will define the different pluripotent cells in the early embryo and the signals that lead them into the many distinct cell types that co-operate to form an adult organism. An exciting aspect of the field is that as we define the shared mechanisms controlling different tissues, we will generate an integrated view of human development. This symposium is designed to present key advances that are leading to a systematic understanding of the biology of human tissues throughout life. In this program, we strive to balance recognized problems in the stem cell field and new ideas that will functionalize human genetic and cellular diversity providing a new understanding of developmental decisions and tissue repair. The presentations will form a strong platform for all the participants to discuss new technologies that identify the central regulators of development and treat disease.