ISSCR 2013 Show Preview: From stem to stern

ISSCR meeting keeps up with fast pace of stem cell research by offering increased technology element, expanded poster coverage and more

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International Society for Stem Cell Research(ISSCR)
11th Annual Meeting
June 12-15, 2013
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
BOSTON—As the annual meeting of the International Societyfor Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) hovers on the brink of its 12thanniversary next year, this year's event may already be heralding a kind oftipping point for stem cell research, suggests Dr. George Daley, the programchair of the ISSCR 11th Annual Meeting, to be held at the Boston Convention andExhibition Center from June 12 to 15.
One sign of how far and how fast stem cell research iscoming along, Daley says, can be seen in some changes to the event this year,both intentional and organic, such as what he refers to as "a lot of new nameson the program" instead of just familiar faces of the past. There is also, henotes, a stronger technology element in the program this year, adding, "we havealso worked closely with our Industry Committee to represent what is happeningin industry and to encourage industry participation in the meeting."
Why more technological attention this year than in the past?
"The big breakthrough over about the past six years has beenreprogramming—taking adult somatic cells and turning them back into pluripotentcells. Building on top of that is the notion that you can change an adult cellinto another cell," Daley tells ddnby way of explaining the shift. "A big challenge of drug development has beentesting drugs in human models of disease. Drugs tend to be tested in animalmodels and don't get exposed to human tests until clinical trials, when many ofthem then fail. But we're seeing increasing use of reprogrammed iPS cells tomodel human disease. So there is a whole interface of drug screening and humandisease modeling that people are going to hear a lot about at the annualmeeting."
"Plus, there is just a lot of new technology formanipulating cells now," he says. "People are using light to change theorientation of cells, there is new nuclease technology for changing genes intarget cells and so much more—we also have a whole session on gene transfer andgene therapy, which is an area that is really coming of age."
Another sign of stem cell research's coming of age is seenin the poster presentations for the annual meeting. In February, the ISSCR hadalready highlighted the fact on its website that more than 2,000 abstracts hadbeen received for the poster sessions, marking a new record for submissions forthe meeting. 
The poster sessions add great depth and breadth ofscientific exchange to the meeting, Daley says, and in recognition of theirimportance and growth, this year the ISSCR has added "Poster Briefs" to theprogram, which is, Daley says, "an expansion of our very popular one-minuteposter teasers."
Each concurrent session will include three very briefpresentations that highlight exceptional abstracts, sparking conversation to becontinued in the evening poster sessions.
"This has really become a very broad meeting, and we hadover 2,000 poster submissions and something like 30 or more invited speakers,"Daley says. "We ended up choosing almost a hundred speakers from the abstractsubmissions so that they could take the stage. We want to keep featuring more juniorresearchers and have more diversity, too, in terms of both the scientificcoverage and international representation. We're increasing the use of posterteasers, and presenters will have a couple minutes on the stage. It's a greatway for people to raise interest in the posters by having a chance to brieflypresent them to the broader audience of attendees."
Related to that program addition, which benefits manyyounger researchers, is a general increase of focus on scientists who are inthe early stages of their career.
"Another new thing for the annual meeting, which is aresponse to requests from members and meeting attendees, is more mentoring ofjunior scientists," Daley says of this shift in focus. "We have a whole sessionto bring in junior scientists so they can have a provocative Q&A sessionwith senior scientists."
The ISSCR's annual meeting is reportedly the largestinternational interdisciplinary forum dedicated to stem cell science. Themeeting brings typically together more than 3,500 of the world's stem cellresearchers each year—though Daley thinks it could end up exceeding that markthis year—to discuss emerging science in what has become a fast-paced field.
"This started out a small event—almost a workshop, really—ofa couple hundred people meeting in Washington, D.C., and now it's a hugeconvention with probably over 4,000 people who will be attending and a hugediversity of areas covered," Daley says.
Looking toward subsequent annual meetings, he adds, "What Isee happening in the future for what is covered is the technology base becomingmore relevant to pharma. I'm already seeing a trend of pharmas startinginternal research programs as they realize that the interface of stem celltechnology and drug development is powerful. We'll be seeing more and more drugdevelopment and cell therapy programs highlighted at the meeting, because Ithink that's where the field is going—more toward therapeutic applications."

New Concepts andTools for Advancing Stem Cell Research and Therapeutic Approach

Industry Wednesday Symposium
June 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

The ISSCR provides the opportunity for symposia on this day,as part of the exhibition portion of the annual meeting, to be sponsored bycompanies and present "topical scientific issues in the field of stem cellscience as framed by industry leaders."
As of late April, only one such symposium was listed on theISSCR website, titled "New Concepts and Tools for Advancing Stem Cell Researchand Therapeutic Approach" and to be presented by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. 
As noted by Thermo Fisher Scientific, "stem cell researchhas emerged as one of the most promising areas of medical science, attractingunprecedented public support and interest. In line with our company'scommitment to advancing stem cell research, scientists from Thermo FisherScientific will present its newest culture systems for generating, expanding,characterizing and preserving stem cells."
The significant savings in labor and cost, coupled with whatis reportedly "above-industry-standard performance of the systems," will resultin meaningful outcomes in the core of daily research, according to the company. 
In addition, speakers from industry and academia will usethe event as a chance to exchange ideas about their recent discoveries.
8:30 a.m. to 9:15a.m.
Reagents for microRNAfunctional analysis in stem cells 
Emily Anderson, Ph.D., senior scientist, Gene Modulation,Thermo Fisher Scientific 
9:15 a.m. to 9:45a.m.
Optimized expansionand characterization of human pluripotent stem cells without compromisingpluripotency
Amy Sinor-Anderson, Ph.D., senior research scientist,Labware and Specialty Plastics, Thermo Fisher Scientific
9:45 a.m. to 10:30a.m.
Past problems andfuture challenges of human pluripotency
Hidemasa Kato, Ph.D., Saitama Medical University, ResearchCenter for Genomic Medicine
10:30 a.m. to 11:15a.m.
Support cell therapy forCNS: Reprograming for repair
Chris Pröschel, Ph.D., University of Rochester MedicalCenter, Department of Biomedical Genetics
11:15 a.m. to 11:45a.m.
The design andcapabilities of the Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility
Michael J. Fiske, executive director, Upstate Stem Cell cGMPFacility, University of Rochester Medical Center
11:45 a.m. to 12:30p.m.
Cold-chain andlogistical challenges of cell-based therapies in clinical trials throughcommercialization
Dan O'Donnell, associate director, Cell Therapy Logistics,Fisher BioServices
Learning objectives and goals of the symposium
  • Present and discuss new tools to manipulateendogenous mature microRNA function in stem cells with rationally designedsynthetic and expressed microRNA modulation reagents
  • Present and discuss new tools to improveproficiency in culturing human pluripotent stem cells 
  • Address discovery of degradation mechanism for acellular enzyme TET1 in hiPSC and the effect of its over-expression on humanpluripotency and disease modeling
  • Address novel concepts in functionalheterogeneity of astrocyte populations and the role of a unique population ofastrocytes in repairing injuries to the central nervous system
  • Getting from research to therapy and theimportance of building a cGMP-compliant stem cell facility
  • Discuss forward thinking in packaging,distribution and logistical requirements for cell-based drug Phase II and PhaseIII clinical trial design
Target audience
Scientists and researchers from academia, industry andgovernment research whose work involves cell biology and stem cell research. 
The Charles River Basin, which is almost entirely awork of human design, essentially marks the center of Boston's metropolitanarea, encompasses 19 miles of shore and includes more 20 parks and othernatural areas. CREDIT: Greater Boston Convention & VisitorsBureau 

ISSCR Awards
Each year, the ISSCR presents several awards in recognitionof "outstanding work and promise" in the fields of stem cells and regenerativemedicine. At the ISSCR 11th Annual Meeting in Boston, the society will presentthe McEwen Award for Innovation, the ISSCR-University of Pittsburgh OutstandingYoung Investigator Award and the ISSCR Public Service Award.

McEwen Award for Innovation
James A. Thomson,Ph.D.

This $100,000 award recognizes original thinking andgroundbreaking research pertaining to stem cells or regenerative medicine thatopens new avenues of exploration toward the understanding or treatment of humandisease or affliction.
The recipient of the 2013 McEwen Award for Innovation is Dr.James A. Thomson for his work that reproducibly isolated pluripotent cell linesfrom human blastocysts, opening the door for the study of human embryonic stemcells and revealing new possibilities for developing cell-based therapies,disease models and reagents for toxicity testing. The ISSCR will presentThomson with the award during the Presidential Symposium on Wednesday, June 12.

ISSCR-University of Pittsburgh Outstanding Young Investigator Award
Marius Wernig, M.D.,Ph.D.           

This award recognizes the exceptional achievements of aninvestigator in the early part of his or her independent career in stem cellresearch.  

The recipient of the 2013 ISSCR-University of PittsburghOutstanding Young Investigator Award is Dr. Marius Wernig in recognition of hisresearch demonstrating the ability of previously specified cells to bereprogrammed directly to other, distantly related cell types, which hastransformed the field of cellular reprogramming. Wernig will receive his awardand present his lecture during Plenary VI on Saturday, June 15.
ISSCR Public Service Award
Hiromitsu Ogawa andBetty Jean Crouch Ogawa

This award was launched in 2011 to recognize people fortheir outstanding contributions of public service to the field of stem cell researchand regenerative medicine during the previous year. Nominees for this award,supported by past and present members of the ISSCR board of directors, can comefrom one of the many fields serving the stem cell research community, includingacademia, government, philanthropy and patient advocacy.

The third annual ISSCR Public Service Award will bepresented to Hiromitsu Ogawa and Betty Jean Crouch Ogawa in recognition of whatISSCR calls "their extraordinary support of stem cell research" in Japan and theUnited States, including Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka and the GladstoneInstitute, as well as their work with the ISSCR Global Advisory Council. ISSCRwill present the award to them at the start of Plenary II on Wednesday, June12.
With historic Faneuil Hall as its centerpiece—a1742 gift to the city from Peter Faneuil, Boston's wealthiest merchant at thetime—the Faneuil Hall Marketplace consists of four buildings: Faneuil Hall, QuincyMarket, North Market and South Market. The quartet of historic buildings withtheir dozens of shopping and dinging options, are all set around a cobblestonepromenade where jugglers, magicians and musicians often entertain thepassers-by. CREDIT: Greater Boston Convention & VisitorsBureau


Keynote Speaker
Eric Lander of the Broad Institute
Anne McLaren Memorial Lecturer
Elaine Fuchs of Rockefeller University
Ernest McCulloch Memorial Lecturer
George Q. Daley of Children's Hospital Boston
Presidential Symposium Speakers
James Thomson of the Morgridge Institute for Research
Edith Heard of the Institut Curie in France
Douglas A. Melton of Harvard University
Richard A. Young of the Whitehead Institute for BiomedicalResearch

Featured Sessions

Plenary Topics 
  • Presidential Symposium
  • Cell and Gene Therapy
  • Disease Modeling
  • Genomics and Epigenomics of Stem Cells
  • Making Tissues and Organs
  • Regeneration, Engraftment and Migration
  • Stem Cells and Fate Control
Concurrent SessionTopics 
  • Cell Fate Conversion
  • Chemical Control of Stem Cell Behavior
  • Epigenetics of Stem Cells
  • Chromatin Regulation in Stem Cells
  • Germ Cell Biology and Artificial Gametes
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Immunology and Stem Cells
  • Modeling Human Disease
  • Neural Stem Cells
  • New Technologies for Controlling and ObservingStem Cell Behavior
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells I
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells II
  • Self-Renewal Mechanisms
  • Stem Cell Aging and Metabolism
  • Stem Cell Signaling and Niches
  • Stem Cell Therapies
  • Stem Cells and Cancer
  • Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering
  • Stem Cells in Organ Development
  • Stem Cells, Injury and Regeneration
  • The historical site of the Battle of Lexington andConcord on the first battle day in the Revolutionary War, Boston's ConcordBridge is shown in autumn in this photo. CREDIT: Greater Boston Convention & VisitorsBureau

    To go to part two of our ISSCR 11th Annual Meeting pre-show coverage, click here.

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