Show Preview: ISSCR celebrates 15th anniversary during annual meeting in Boston

ISSCR 2017 highlights new discoveries in stem cell research and progress toward clinical therapies

Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify
International Society for Stem Cell Research
ISSCR 2017 Annual Meeting
June 14-17
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
ISSCR celebrates 15th anniversary during annual meeting in Boston
ISSCR 2017 highlights new discoveries in stem cell research and progress toward clinical therapies
Progress in stem cell research and its translation to the clinic will be the focus of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) annual meeting from June 14-17 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston—during which the ISSCR will also celebrate 15 years of existence.
More than 4,000 stem cell scientists, bioethicists, clinicians and industry professionals from over 50 countries are expected to be there at ISSCR 2017 to share and discuss the latest discoveries and technologies within the field and how they are advancing regenerative medicine.
The ISSCR annual meeting is the world’s largest meeting focused on stem cell research, with a series of lectures, workshops, poster presentations and a dynamic exhibition floor with nearly 200 exhibitors. Presentations span the breadth of the field, including topics such as stem cells and cancer, disease modeling and organogenesis, gene editing and gene therapy, potential breakthrough therapies currently being tested in clinical trials and more.
“The annual meeting is an essential forum for all stakeholders in the field of stem cell research,” said ISSCR’s president, Dr. Sally Temple, in a news release about the meeting. “Discoveries are moving forward quickly, with developments that are changing the way we view and treat disease. That has tremendous implications, not only for scientists, but also for regulatory bodies, industry and patients.”
Before the start of the meeting itself, on June 13, a Public Symposium organized by the meeting co-sponsor, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), will be held at District Hall in Boston. The symposium, titled “Innovation, Incubation, Investment: The Landscape of Stem Cell Research in Boston,” will feature local leaders in the Boston stem cell community.
Also, two pre-meeting sessions on that same day are specifically targeted toward clinicians and scientists and those interested in bringing new therapies to the clinic. They are:
  • The Workshop on Clinical Translation, “How to Get From the Bench to the Clinic: Practical Advice for Completing an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application,” will examine the process of preparing an application to clinically test a new cellular therapy.
  • Clinical Advances in Stem Cell Research will feature three parallel, independent sessions on current and regenerative medicine approaches to neurodegenerative diseases, ocular conditions, and immuno-oncology.
“We recognize that the translational aspect of stem cell research is vitally important, and it’s a strong aspect of the scientific programming throughout the meeting,” Temple tells DDNews. “This year we’re offering two pre-meeting educational sessions specifically designed for scientists and physicians interested in learning about how stem cell therapies are developed and moved into the clinic.”
“The Workshop on Clinical Translation and the Clinical Advances in Stem Cell Research program both focus on research that is entering the clinic,” she adds. “This year we highlight new approaches to neural degeneration, eye disease and immune-oncology, and speakers will address the opportunities and challenges that may arise. The goal for us is to make the transition from the lab to the clinic is as seamless as possible, prioritizing sound scientific rationale, robust preclinical evidence of safety and efficacy and patient welfare.”
She also highlights a focus session on June 13 developed by the ISSCR Industry Committee, called “From the Bench to the Clinic: How to Manufacture Your Cell Product.” Temple says is a complement to the clinical translational workshop.
“Speakers will define key elements of the manufacturing process, using case studies including pluripotent stem cell-derived products and genome-edited cell products,” she explains. “The panel will focus on issues such as in-process and release testing, identity, purity and potency assays, selection and qualification of manufacturing materials and equipment, analytical method development and outsourcing considerations.”
The Presidential Symposium, which is the opening plenary session on June 14, will recognize progress in research and clinical application of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, with a distinguished lineup of speakers that includes Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka, a discoverer of iPS cells. Additional plenary presentations include noted international speakers who will focus on research developments in organogenesis, the making of tissues and organs; stem cells and cancer; chromatin and RNA biology; stress, senescence and aging; tissue regeneration and homeostasis; and the frontiers of cell therapy.
In assembling the program for ISSCR 2017, the program committee tries to broadly represent the depth and breadth of the field, “while showcasing areas where the science is really showing potential for clinical application,” adds Dr. Elaine Fuchs of Rockefeller University, who is chair of the 2017 Program Committee. “We developed seven plenary sessions around topics including organogenesis, gene editing, gene therapy, and cancer. Our opening plenary recognizes progress in research and clinical application of iPS cells, which are showing potential in many areas. The latest research in chromatin and RNA biology, metabolism, stress, aging and tissue regeneration will also be discussed.”
Additionally, Fuchs tells DDNews, the program includes experts in many  fields where the science cuts across disease areas and is advancing toward the clinic, including the fields of immunotherapy and CAR-T cells—experts in those areas will discuss recent progress and pitfalls in cancer therapeutics. 
“We also look to concurrent sessions throughout the meeting to feature new and innovative developments. This year we’ll have 28 sessions with more than 100 abstract-selected speakers on topics such as disease modeling, tissue engineering, stem cell niches, epigenetics, CRISPR-Cas gene modification and gene editing and a host of tissue-specific stem cells. Finally, the diversity of topics, gender and geographic representation for the 2017 ISSCR Program is unparalleled and paves the way for a successful meeting in Boston.”

ISSCR to recognize several in stem cell arena
CHICAGO—In January, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) announced its 2017 award recipients for the McEwen Award for Innovation, the ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Outstanding Young Investigator Award, the ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture and the ISSCR Public Service Award.
Awardees will be recognized at ISSCR 2017 in Boston.
  • McEwen Award for Innovation: Dr. Elaine Fuchs, the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at The Rockefeller University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator
  • ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Outstanding Young Investigator Award: Dr. Jayaraj Rajagopalof the Department of Internal Medicine at the Center for Regenerative Medicine of Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, as well as a Howard Hughes Faculty Scholar
  • ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture: Dr. John Dick, Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology and senior scientist for the University Health Network of Canada, as well as a professor at the University of Toronto and director of the cancer stem cells program at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
  • Public Service Award: Dr. George Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School and a professor at Boston Children's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
The McEwen Award for Innovation, supported by the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, recognizes original thinking and groundbreaking research pertaining to stem cells or regenerative medicine that opens new avenues of exploration toward the understanding or treatment of human disease or affliction. Fuchs’ research, ISSCR says, has transformed the understanding of skin stem cells and their application to regenerative medicine, genetic syndromes and cancers.
She has developed many innovative approaches to analyze skin stem cells and their niches, and to dissect the complex controls that orchestrate how stem cells make and repair tissues and what goes awry in genetic conditions and malignancies.
“Fuchs has made extraordinary contributions to skin stem cell research throughout her career,” said ISSCR President Sally Temple. “Her work continues to provide new and important insights into all facets of skin and stem cell biology, and the advances she has made extend to the broader scientific and medical community.”
Fuchs will present her research in Plenary VI, Tissue Regeneration and Homeostasis, on June 17.
The ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Outstanding Young Investigator Award recognizes exceptional achievements by an ISSCR member and investigator in the early part of their independent career in stem cell research.
The 2017 recipient, Rajagopal, has established himself as a young leader in the field of lung stem cells and lung repair, working with both mouse and human models. As a physician-scientist, Rajagopal has done genetic studies and lineage tracing in the mouse lung, and established a strong research program focused on the repair and regeneration of human lung tissue. His research has provided new insights into the progression of diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancers.
“Rajagopal and his lab have already made important contributions to the understanding of cell biology in the lung, which have implications for treatment of lung cancer and respiratory disease,” said ISSCR CEO Nancy Witty. “He is also known for his support of young investigators and physician-scientists, which is a great testament to Rajagopal’s commitment to the field. We look forward to involving him in ISSCR leadership in the future.”
Like Fuchs, Rajagopal will present his research in Plenary VI, Tissue Regeneration and Homeostasis, on June 17.
The ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture, started in 2016, is supported by the Tobias Foundation and recognizes original and promising basic hematology research and direct translational or clinical research related to cell therapy in hematological disorders. The winner presents the Tobias Lecture at the ISSCR Annual Meeting.
Award winner Dick has been a leader in the areas of normal stem cell and cancer stem cell biology over the last 30 years, and his discoveries have led to significant advances in cancer biology that have opened new areas of inquiry. By isolating human hematopoietic stem cells, Dick was able to study cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate their function, and his method is now widely used by researchers around the world. Notably, Dick achieved a breakthrough finding that there are intrinsic differences in tumorigenic potential among cancer cells from the same tumor, and he expanded his work to include common solid cancers.
“Dick has had a tremendous impact on the field of cancer research,” said Temple. “Through his intellectual leadership, his high standard of scientific inquiry and creative insight, he has generated discoveries and approaches that have forever changed the way that researchers approach the development of cancer treatments.”
Dick will present his research in Plenary IV, Chromatin and RNA Biology, on June 16.
The ISSCR Public Service Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions of public service to the fields of stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
A physician-scientist and leading public advocate for the responsible ethical oversight of human stem cell research, Daley has long been involved in promoting and upholding rigorous standards for the field. He initiated and played key roles in the formulation of three sets of ISSCR guidelines, for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (2006), the Clinical Translation of Stem Cells (2008) and Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation (2016), which are in use around the world.
“Daley’s unwavering commitment to the ethical conduct of research and the integrity of the field is unparalleled,” said Temple. “He continues to advocate on policy issues affecting the field, and is widely respected for his insights, experience and accomplishments.”
Daley will present in Plenary Session III, Stem Cells and Cancer, June 15.

Pre-meeting education
Workshop on Clinical Translation
How to Get From the Bench to the Clinic: Practical Advice for Completing an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application
Tuesday, June 13
8:30 a.m. to Noon
This first step toward obtaining permission from a regulatory agency to administer an experimental cellular therapy to humans is a multi-layered process that requires developing a comprehensive plan, managing data, documentation and timelines and meeting with regulatory officials. This workshop is intended to help investigators understand and better navigate this process. Although the workshop is organized around working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the principles are broadly applicable around the world and key points of overlap will be addressed.
This half-day workshop held in advance of the ISSCR 2017 annual meeting is open to anyone, regardless of career stage, who is looking to bridge their preclinical research findings to the clinic, to work or collaborate on translational projects or who has a general interest in how a treatment can emerge from biomedical research.
Clinical Advances in Stem Cell Research (CASC)
Tuesday, June 13 June
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
New this year, CASC is a half-day program held the day before the ISSCR 2017 annual meeting. In disease-focused tracks, leaders in current and translational therapies will explore the current clinical landscape, advances in cell therapies and how stem cell research is being applied in the clinic. The three independent tracks, held in parallel, will each have a separate focus: immuno-oncology, neurodegenerative diseases and ocular indications.

Focus Sessions
June 14
9 a.m. to Noon
Focus Sessions present a symbiotic forum for industry and academic research worlds to come together for the sake of accelerating and exploring the promise of stem cell science. These sessions will kick off the annual meeting and spark rigorous discussions on topics being brought up in research labs across the globe.
  • Translational Horizons of Pluripotent Stem Cell Technology
  • Off-the-Shelf Natural Killer Cell Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Progress of the Cutting-Edge Technologies in Regenerative Medicine
  • Tools for Basic and Applied Research
  • Neurological Disorders: Transforming the Landscape with hPSC
  • Ethical Implications of Organoid Technology
  • From the Bench to the Clinic: How to Manufacture Your Cell Product

Future meetings
In June 2016, the ISSCR announced Los Angeles as the site of  the 2019 annual meeting—this will mark the first time the organization will be meeting in that city. More than 3,000 stem cell researchers and professionals from around the globe are expected to be there at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 26-29, 2019.
“Los Angeles offers a rich scientific and cultural backdrop for the ISSCR’s 2019 meeting and we were delighted by the enthusiasm we received from local government, the biotech industry and the scientific and health communities,” said ISSCR CEO Nancy Witty. “We are excited to have USC Stem Cell’s world-class scientists as our co-sponsor, and we are grateful to Mr. Kin-Chung Choi for his generous support to make this possible.”
A leader in promoting scientific advances, USC Stem Cell is a collaborative initiative that brings together nearly 100 research and clinical faculty members from across the University of Southern California (USC) to translate the potential of stem cell research to the clinic. The initiative is supported by Hong Kong-based businessman and philanthropist Kin-Chung Choi, who extended his “thanks to USC for giving me this rare opportunity to support stem cell researchers from all over the world.”
Dr. Rohit Varma, who was then interim dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of the USC Roski Eye Institute—he has since been named dean officially—underscored how the conference will benefit not only stem cell researchers, but also the patients they will ultimately serve.
“We are honored to welcome the international community of leading stem cell researchers to the 2019 ISSCR Conference in Los Angeles,” he said. “By bringing together these exceptional scientific minds, the conference will serve as an incubator for new ideas and research collaborations, which will eventually translate into better, more creative therapies for patients.”
In addition to being the home of USC, Los Angeles and the surrounding area is the location of several other major research universities, institutions, academic medical centers and hospitals, including: the California Institute of Technology; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; City of Hope; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Riverside; and University of California, Santa Barbara.
In November 2015, the ISSCR had officially announced the site of next year’s annual meeting, which will be Melbourne, Australia. This will be ISSCR’s first visit to Australia since 2007, when meeting attendees gathered in Cairns.
“The Australians, led by the ASSCR, submitted a strong proposal, uniting local government, industry and the scientific and health communities to paint a picture of the vibrant professional and cultural opportunities the city has to offer,” Witty said. “We were impressed by their unity, enthusiasm and the comprehensive nature of their proposal.
“Further, Australia has a long history of pioneering and diverse stem cell research and is the home of many groundbreaking discoveries and innovative companies ... world-class scientists [there] are involved in important collaborations all over the globe and are expected to draw participation from their peers in China, Europe, the United States and beyond.”

The International Society for Stem Cell Research is an independent, nonprofit membership organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application.

Published In:

Subscribe to Newsletter
Subscribe to our eNewsletters

Stay connected with all of the latest from Drug Discovery News.

March 2024 Issue Front Cover

Latest Issue  

• Volume 20 • Issue 2 • March 2024

March 2024

March 2024 Issue