NEW YORK—Despite a cloud of regulatory uncertainty hanging over the U.S. stem cell research field, many young scientists spoke excitedly about their research Wednesday afternoon at the New York Stem Cell Foundation’s annual Translational Stem Cell Research Conference here at Rockefeller University.

Some of the most recent big-news breakthroughs have come in the realm of cell reprogramming, which can coax adult cells back into a more flexible stem-like state, thus skirting many (but not all of) of the ethical and political issues that currently surround human embryonic stem cell research.

Although these induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have not proven to be identical to embryonic stem (ES) cells (for one, they seem to retain some traces of the cell types from whence they came), they are “extremely similar” to the ES cells, Dieter Egli, a senior research fellow with the New York Stem Cell Foundation, said at the meeting.