Conversation with Experts: The Fight Against COVID-19


April 23, 2020
4:30 – 5:30 PM


Virtual Discussion via Zoom

The COVID-19 pandemic has galvanized scientists across the globe, including those in the NYSCF Research Institute and NYSCF Innovator community, to launch innovative research projects aimed at stopping the virus’ rampage. Watch this panel discussion to hear from members of the NYSCF community on their promising new projects to accelerate treatments and diagnostics for COVID-19.

“This pandemic is devastating, but it has also brought about the most collaborative period of science that I’ve ever experienced,” said Dr. Zhang. “I’ve probably met more people in the last four weeks than I typically would in a year, and everyone who I’ve reached out to about collaborating has been receptive. I think that speaks to how united we are in this fight.”

Read highlights from this discussion here.

This panel was recorded on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Other advancements and findings may have been published since its recording.

Susan L. Solomon, JD
CEO & Founder, The NYSCF Research Institute

Susan L. Solomon is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute. A veteran healthcare advocate, Susan has received numerous awards for her work with NYSCF, including the New York State Women of Excellence Award, the Triumph Award from the Brooke Ellison Foundation, and recognition as a Living Landmark from the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Susan has decades of leadership experience in starting and building effective and focused organizations. She started her career as an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton, then held executive positions at MacAndrews & Forbes and APAX (formerly MMG Patricof and Co.) She was the founder and President of Sony Worldwide Networks, the Chairman and CEO of Lancit Media Productions, and served as the founding CEO of, prior to starting her own strategic management consulting firm Solomon Partners LLC in 2000.

Deepta Bhattacharya, PhD
NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumnus
Associate Professor of Immunobiology, University of Arizona

Deepta Bhattacharya is an expert in immunology whose lab studies stem cells and antibody responses to infections and vaccines. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, studying a type of immune cells known as B cells. For his postdoctoral fellowship, he trained at Stanford University, studying the cell biology of hematopoietic stem cells and the cells they give rise to. In 2008, he began his own lab at Washington University in St. Louis, first as an Assistant Professor and then as a tenured Associate Professor. Dr. Bhattacharya returned in 2017 to his birthplace of Tucson to join the Department of Immunobiology at the University of Arizona. His team has begun using a test that can detect antibodies against the COVID-19 virus in previously infected people, which can be harnessed to develop treatments and vaccines.

Shuibing Chen, PhD
NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumna
Associate Professor of Surgery and of Biochemistry, Weill Cornell Medical College

Shuibing Chen is a pioneer in stem cell models of disease and leveraging them for drug screening. Her lab studies the role of genetics and environmental factors on pancreatic beta cells in type 1 and 2 diabetes. She received her BS and MS in Chemistry from Tsinghua University in China, and carried out her PhD work with Dr. Peter G. Schultz at the Scripps Research Institute. After graduation, she joined Dr. Douglas Melton’s laboratory at Harvard University to study the creation of pancreatic cells from human stem cells. She has received many awards including a American Diabetes Association (ADA) Junior Faculty Award, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and the International Society for Stem Cell Research Dr. Susan Lim Young Investigator Award. Dr. Chen is creating organoids (3D clusters of human tissue made from stem cells) that contain cells believed to be most susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. She is using these stem cell models of the infection to test which drugs may help combat the disease. In later stages of this research, she will use NYSCF’s automated technologies to scale up and accelerate her drug screens.

Scott Noggle, PhD
Senior Vice President of Research, The NYSCF Research Institute

Scott Noggle is an experienced stem cell biologist who has spearheaded critical technologies to advance the field. He was a primary developer of The NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array®, the only fully automated robotic system of its kind for the accurate and reproducible generation of stem cell lines. His current work focuses on using stem cells to better understand and treat neurodegenerative diseases, primarily Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Noggle received his PhD from the Medical College of Georgia and completed his postdoctoral research at The Rockefeller University, where he studied stem cells and neurology. With his team at the NYSCF Research Institute, Dr. Noggle is using stem cells to create the types of lung cells that are impacted by the COVID-19 disease, which will be made available to COVID-19 researchers globally for use in testing therapies.

Feng Zhang, PhD
NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumnus
James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience, MIT
Professor, Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering, MIT
Core Member, Broad Institute

Feng Zhang is a molecular biologist known for pioneering CRISPR gene editing technology. In addition to his seminal contributions in discovering and applying a range of CRISPR-Cas systems, he played an integral role in developing optogenetics – a revolutionary tool that uses light to control the activity of neurons. Current research in the Zhang laboratory is centered on the discovery of novel biological systems and processes, discovering their mechanisms and developing them into highly impactful molecular tools and therapies to study and treat human disease. Dr. Zhang’s work on gene editing has been recognized by numerous awards including the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Tang Prize, the Keio Medical Prize, and the Harvey Prize. He is also a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Zhang is working on a number of projects aimed at improving treatment and diagnostics of COVID-19, including methods for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus and extracting RNA from patient swab samples, as well as mobile survey app for identification of COVID-19 hotspots.

We are grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their support of our education and outreach programs.