Media Advisory: The New York Stem Cell Foundation Conference

Press Release


The New York Stem Cell Foundation Conference

When: Tuesday and Wednesday, October 23rd– 24th, 2018 8:30AM – 5:30PM

Where: The Rockefeller University, Caspary Auditorium

East 66th Street and York Avenue, New York, NY


The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF)’s 13th annual translational stem cell research conference convenes global leaders in stem cell research to present their latest progress towards new treatments and cures for the most devastating diseases and injuries in the world.

The two-day conference will feature discussions on transformative new technologies in the field, moving research from the lab to the clinic, and current challenges facing regenerative medicine. The meeting sessions will feature 28 scientific presentations on topics such as neurodegenerative disease, tissue regeneration, immunotherapy, disease genetics, emerging cellular therapies, and cancer.

This year’s keynote address (October 23, 2:00 PM) will be delivered by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD. As NIH Director since 2009, Dr. Collins oversees the largest biomedical funding agency in the world. He is known for his leadership of the Human Genome Project— an international effort that successfully mapped the entire human genome— as well as his role in the discovery of important disease genes.

The event will also feature a special presentation (October 24, 3:45 – 4:15 PM) by Peter Marks, MD, PhD, Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). The center is responsible for assuring the safety and effectiveness of biological products, including vaccines, allergenic products, blood and blood products, and cellular, tissue, and gene therapies. In his presentation, he will provide a regulatory perspective on stem cell research and therapies, discussing how scientists, clinicians, and the government can best collaborate to bring promising treatments to the clinic.

In the first session, Tissue Renewal and Regeneration (October 23, 9:10 – 10:20 AM) scientists will discuss how stem cells can mend damaged tissues in the body. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, PhD, of the Salk Institute, will share his lab’s work to alter the genetics of stem cells to cure inherited disease and investigate the aging process, and Noriyuki Tsumaki, MD, PhD, of Kyoto University, will discuss his recent work using stem cells to regenerate damaged cartilage and advance the study of skeletal disorders.

In Recapitulating Disease in a Dish (October 23, 10:50 AM – 12:25 PM), leading researchers will share how stem cells are being used to generate disease-relevant cell types in which they can study pathology. Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, Director of the Stanford University Cardiovascular Institute, will speak about his work generating heart muscle cells from patient stem cells to study heart disease, screen drugs, and develop strategies for precision medicine.  Stephen Waxman, MD, PhD, Director of the Yale University Center for Neuroscience & Regeneration Research, will present the stem cell models of “pain-in-a-dish” he has created to study the cellular basis behind chronic pain and design new therapies. Shuibing Chen, PhD, of Weill Cornell Medical College, will share her lab’s progress in using stem cells to understand the genetic and environmental factors behind diabetes.

In Blood, Immunology, and Cancer (October 23, 3:30 – 5:05 PM), scientists will speak about how the body’s blood and immune systems interplay with cancer pathology. Immunotherapies are a groundbreaking new type of treatment that are revolutionizing the way we fight cancer (its pioneers were awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine). In this session, several other pioneers in the field will speak about their work using stem cells to create immunotherapies. In this session, Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Cell Engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will share his latest efforts in cancer immunotherapy. Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco will present his use of immunotherapies to reverse autoimmune and organ transplant rejection.

In Neurodegeneration and the Brain (October 24, 9:10 – 10:25 AM) scientists will speak about how stem cells can illuminate the mechanisms behind neurodegeneration. Stefano Pluchino, MD, PhD, of the University of Cambridge will share his work using stem cells to design new treatments for inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, and Harvard University’s Dr. Paola Arlotta will discuss her work investigating the development, regeneration, and assembly of brain cells in diseases like ALS.

In a panel discussion titled Resolving Disease Genetics Using Stem Cells (October 24, 2:00 – 2:40 PM), Drs. Kevin Eggan, Scott Noggle, and Kelly Frazer will discuss how stem cells are being leveraged to dissect the role of genetics in disease. Most common diseases are influenced by multiple, small genetic changes whose precise contributions are very challenging to identify. These panelists will draw on their expertise in neurology and cardiology to discuss how stem cells can be used to unravel the complex genetic factors that drive the major diseases of our time.

Expressway to the Clinic (October 24, 4:20 – 5:05 PM) will highlight how scientists are generating healthy versions of the cells affected in disease to replace those that are damaged. Lorenz Studer, MD, Director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Center for Stem Cell Biology, will discuss his upcoming clinical trial for one of the first stem-cell-based therapies to replace the neurons lost in Parkinson’s disease. Kapil Bharti, PhD, head of the NIH’s Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Unit, will present his preparation of a phase I clinical trial using stem-cell-derived ocular tissue to treat age-related macular degeneration.

Special Announcements (October 23, 2:00 PM)

NYSCF will announce the 2018 class of NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell and Neuroscience Investigators. The NYSCF – Robertson Investigator program provides five years of critical seed funding to outstanding early-career scientists, supporting them as they establish independent research careers. To date, the NYSCF global community includes 53 NYSCF – Robertson Investigators and Alumni at 36 institutions throughout the world.

In a new frontier for stem cell research, NYSCF will announce a National Stem Cell Foundation-sponsored collaboration with the Summit for Stem Cell Institute to send stem cell-derived organoids to the International Space Station. Studying these organoids – 3D aggregates of neural cells – when the gravitational forces that act on cells and biological systems are removed, provides a unique opportunity to study cell-to-cell interaction and the role of the immune response in neurodegenerative disease. For the first time, stem cell-derived organoids from patients with Parkinson’s disease and progressive MS will be studied in microgravity to investigate new models for understanding PD and MS progression with potential for novel therapeutic drug development. A pilot launch to test hardware developed for this project by research partner Space Tango will go up this fall, with a full launch to the International Space Station (ISS) from Cape Canaveral in May. Learn more about this project and other exciting studies from leading institutions around the world at the conference’s poster session (October 23rd, 5:10–7:00pm).

The full conference agenda can be found at Limited media passes are available upon request.


About The New York Stem Cell Foundation

The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute is an independent organization accelerating cures and better treatments for patients through stem cell research. The NYSCF global community includes over 150 researchers at leading institutions worldwide, including the NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellows, the NYSCF – Robertson Investigators, the NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipients, and NYSCF Research Institute scientists and engineers. The NYSCF Research Institute is an acknowledged world leader in stem cell research and in developing pioneering stem cell technologies, including the NYSCF Global Stem Cell ArrayTM and in manufacturing stem cells for scientists around the globe. NYSCF focuses on translational research in a model designed to overcome the barriers that slow discovery and replace silos with collaboration. For more information, visit