NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellows Gather in New York to Welcome New Class and Reconnect

The NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellowship Program supports the most talented postdoctoral scientists at critical junctures in their careers who are in the pursuit of innovative and groundbreaking stem cell research.

This month, alumni members of the NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellowship  gathered at the NYSCF Research Institute for the first-ever annual fellowship alumni meeting. This day served as an important opportunity for this group to reconnect, advise one another on their work, and showcase critical advancements in areas such as cancer biology, neurodegenerative disease, and tissue engineering.

Robert Langer, ScD, of MIT delivered a keynote address on the many revolutionary biotechnologies he has created to aid in everything from organ repair to drug delivery. Dr. Langer is one of the most cited engineers in history and holds over 1,350 issued or pending patents.

That evening, the fellowship alumni, NYSCF staff, and supporters gathered at the Asia Society for a reception to welcome the new class of 2019 fellows:

Stephanie Ellis, PhD
The Rockefeller University

Dr. Ellis is studying a phenomenon known as “cell competition” in skin stem cells. In cell competition, less fit cells are actively eliminated by fitter, more robust cells to ensure that the strongest cells make up the adult skin. By identifying the mechanisms and genetics behind cell competition, she is uncovering an important facet of skin development. With this work, she aims to show that cell competition provides an essential quality control mechanism during development to safeguard the skin against stresses in both pre- and post-natal life.

Jesus M. Gomez Salinero, PhD
Weill Cornell Medical College

Dr. Gomez Salinero is interested in curing end-stage liver disease. His research focuses on adapting liver cells generated from stem cells to their new home, the injured liver. In order to understand how these new cells can fully incorporate into the host, he is creating liver scaffolds that mimic the environment of developing liver cells. This research has implications for improving liver function and identifying factors that could promote liver repair.

Marissa A. Scavuzzo, PhD
Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Scavuzzo is studying a network of nervous system cells inside the gastrointestinal tract that has been referred to as “the second brain,” and which functions autonomously to precisely regulate digestive functions. She is particularly interested in enteric glia, a type of cell that passively nourishes brain cells and whose role is now thought to be even more dynamic than previously believed. Gaining a more complete knowledge of the enteric glia could lead to the generation of therapies for those suffering from gastrointestinal disorders.

Tianchi Xin, PhD
Yale University

Dr. Xin’s research focuses on the development and regeneration of healthy tissues and how their dysregulation can lead to disease. His preliminary work has shown that hair follicles can maintain their normal growth during regeneration, even when most stem cells are blocked from multiplying. By examining this exception, he aims to establish a new model for studying how stem cells are regulated during mammalian tissue growth. This research could help identify potential intervention strategies for when tissue growth goes awry, such as in cases of birth defect or cancer.

We look forward to seeing the many future accomplishments of our fellows and alumni!