A U.S. Patent on “Media for Culturing Stem Cells” was awarded to the Technion Research & Development Foundation on August 20th, 2019. The present invention is a well-defined, xeno-free culture media which comprise a TGF-beta isoform or the chimera formed between IL6 and the soluble IL6 receptor (IL6RIL6), which are capable of maintaining stem cells, and particularly, human embryonic stem cells, in an undifferentiated state are provided. Also provided are cell cultures comprising the culture media and the stem cells and methods of expanding and deriving embryonic stem cells in such well-defined, xeno-free culture media. Learn More