Regenerative medicine is based on the ability of stem cells to repair tissue damage. The regenerative capacity of endogenous stem cells decreases with age, is impaired in degenerative diseases, and deregulated in cancer. Our ability to maintain and restore normal tissue function therefore requires that we understand not only the identity, properties and function of normal stem cells, but also the processes that alter their function during ageing, and in both malignant and degenerative disease. The aim of this conference is to provide a comprehensive overview of these aspects of stem cell biology. The cellular and molecular properties of normal tissue stem cells will be discussed, as will the properties of the niches that maintain them. We will address alterations to stem cell function during ageing and malignant transformation, and how stem cells can be used for regenerative purposes and for disease treatment.