NYSCF Community Shares Exciting Progress at International Society for Stem Cell Research ConferenceNews
Last week, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) hosted its first ever hybrid meeting in San Francisco, successfully gathering more than 2,200 in-person attendees and over 1,000 virtual participants after two years of online meetings. The conference showcased the latest achievements in stem cell research and was an encouraging testament to the outstanding progress in this field despite the pandemic. The ISSCR also celebrated its 20th anniversary during the meeting, commemorating the achievements of the community with a party and a historic overview lecture by the society’s founder Dr. Leonard Zon.
NYSCF was proud to bring 15 members to the world’s largest stem cell event, with 6 presenting posters or talks. The meeting kicked off with a Focus Session organized by the ISSCR Ethics Committee, where NYSCF Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Simi Ahmed, PhD, presented our long-standing efforts to advocate for stem cell research, and joined a panel discussion to articulate best practices for public engagement in emerging sciences.
From the many scientific highlights, NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumnus Deepta Bhattacharya, PhD (University of Arizona) spoke at the second plenary session about engineering stem cells to evade immune attack, featuring work that is being carried out together with NYSCF – Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation Fellow Paula Alonso-Guallart, DVM, PhD. NYSCF Postdoctoral Fellow Davide Marotta, PhD, shared NYSCF’s work sending stem cell-derived brain models of Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis to the International Space Station. NYSCF Associate Scientist David Labib and NYSCF – Druckenmiller fellow Chandrika Rao, PhD, presented posters on how typically helpful brain cells called astrocytes can ‘go rogue‘ in neurodegenerative diseases, and how microglia (the brain’s immune cells) contribute to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease, respectively. NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellow Alumnus and principal scientist Filippo Cipriani, PhD, updated attendees on how NYSCF is automating the process of making pancreatic organoids – 3D clusters of human pancreatic tissue made from stem cells – to model type 2 diabetes, while NYSCF’s Senior Vice President of the Discovery & Platform Development Daniel Paull, PhD, shared the latest progress in how NYSCF is using cell culture automation and artificial intelligence to identify new cellular features of disease and test drugs.
The conference also featured many speakers from the NYSCF Innovator community, including NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumna Malin Parmar, PhD (Lund University), and NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigators Jun Wu, PhD (UT Southwestern) and Evangelos Kiskinis, PhD (Northwestern University). NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumna Jennifer Phillips-Cremins, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) was recognized with the 2022 Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator, and delivered a fantastic lecture on deciphering how alterations in the genome lead to Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic disorder causing intellectual disability. During her award acceptance speech, Dr. Phillips-Cremins acknowledged the pivotal role that NYSCF funding played at the beginning of her career as an independent investigator.
“I remember exactly where I was walking at Penn when Susan Solomon from NYSCF called to tell me that she would give my lab our first grant,” Dr. Phillips-Cremins recalled. “I want to personally thank Susan and all of my colleagues at NYSCF because they invested in us first and gave us our start, long before we had proven anything”.
NYSCF Innovators have won this award in 6 of the last 10 years.
As a notable theme for this year, ISSCR hosted several Special Sessions on diversity and inclusion, including a workshop that focused on advancing equity in STEM, and a discussion on the importance of using genetically diverse stem cell models to promote the development of inclusive regenerative medicine technologies. The latter was moderated by NYSCF community member Kevin Eggan, PhD, who remarked on NYSCF’s current efforts building an ethnic diversity iPSC biobank as a community resource.
It was apparent from the many advances shared during the meeting that we are living in an exciting time for the field of stem cell research. Significant technological developments in single cell biology, bioengineering, and computational methods are converging to enable scientists to understand, in unprecedented detail, how stem cell systems function and can go awry in disease. It was also fascinating to see many examples of clinical trials underway using stem cell-derived products, bringing the promise of regenerative medicine closer to reality. Overall, it was fantastic to reconnect with the global stem cell community face-to-face again after 3 years apart! We look forward to convening on October 18-19 for the 17th Annual NYSCF Conference in New York City!
For more on the ISSCR conference, check out the conference website and the #ISSCR2022 hashtag on Twitter.