NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize

The NYSCF − Robertson Stem Cell Prize was awarded annually from 2011 through 2017 to an outstanding young stem cell scientist in recognition of significant and path breaking translational stem cell research. Each NYSCF − Robertson Stem Cell Prize recipient received a cash award as well as a sculpture from The New York Stem Cell Foundation.


Dr. Tesar won the Prize for his pioneering discovery of pluripotent epiblast stem cells and technologies to utilize pluripotent stem cells for discovery of new therapeutics for neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and pediatric leukodystrophies. His transformative discoveries are fundamentally enabling critical advances in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.


Dr. Zhang won the Prize for his development of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system, using the technique in human cells. The CRISPR-Cas9 system and later advances, also developed by Zhang, are easy to execute with almost endless possibility for new research enabling scientists to change, delete, and replace any genes of any animal. His methods are being used in immunology, clinical medicine, and cancer biology.


Dr. Michor won the Prize for her work pioneering new approaches to study the growth, spread, and treatment of cancer. Her quantitative approaches have called into question drug regimens for cancer treatments, in particular, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a type of blood cell cancer. Dr Michor’s work simulates what happens if drugs are introduced in different time intervals in order to optimize treatment by reducing the amount of surviving cancer cells.


Dr. Wernig won the Prize for his discovery that human skin cells can be converted directly into functional neurons, termed induced neuronal (iN) cells. This new technique transformed the field of cellular reprogramming by eliminating the need to first create iPS cells, making it easier to generate patient or disease-specific neurons. These cell types hold tremendous therapeutic and translational relevance for patients around the world.


Dr. Wagers won the Prize for her discovery of a hormone, GDF11, that regulates aging through stem cell “rejuvenation”, which has the potential to provide transformative new therapies for aging and chronic degenerative diseases. Her work has the potential to impact treatment of diabetes, cancer, and muscular dystrophy among many other devastating conditions. Her lab focuses on the regulation and therapeutic potential of blood and muscle stem cells.


Dr. Takahashi won the Prize for his vital contribution to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell derivation. He was lead author on a series of landmark papers that described reprogramming adult cells into iPS cells, which were published while he was a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. His path-breaking work truly has opened up the entire field of stem cell research.


Dr. Coffey won the Prize for his pioneering work in the use of human embryonic stem cells to halt visual deterioration and treat age-related eye diseases, resulting in the first clinical stem cell trials to attempt to treat blindness. His research has demonstrated that stem cell-based therapy halted visual deterioration in models of Aged-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a currently untreatable form of blindness affecting millions of people across the globe.