ISSCR FOCUS SESSIONS
WEDNESDAY, 24 JUNE, 08:30-12:30

Attendees are encouraged to include these Wednesday morning sessions in their plans. Any registered attendee may attend the Focus Sessions.

Focus Sessions are parallel, in-depth educational opportunities in science, society and education at the ISSCR Annual Meeting organized by members. The ISSCR is providing space at the Stockholmsmassan Exhibition and Congress Centre on the morning of Wednesday, June 24, to non-profit organizations with a connection to stem cell research that are interested in discussing a topic of interest to ISSCR attendees. The goal of these Focus Sessions is to increase the representation of topics at the Annual Meeting that are of interest to constituencies within the ISSCR but are difficult to adequately represent within the main scientific program.


Biotechnology Entrepreneurialism-How Scientific Discoveries Translate into a Business Opportunity or So You Want to Spin Out a Company!

Organized by: The ISSCR Industry Committee

Are you contemplating launching a start-up? Gain first-hand knowledge on how to develop a business case and pitch your idea. What are the expectations of VCs and Pharma when considering a new opportunity? What does the new company look like and how does it function? Don’t miss this great opportunity to network with your peers and representatives from industry, academia and biopharma as well as successful entrepreneurs to discuss their personal experiences and view to expand your vision of novel funding models to help accelerate your research profile while potentially forging new collaborations.

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Humanity in a Dish

Organized by: Chad A. Cowan, PhD, Harvard University, USA

Genome-wide association studies have identified many common genetic variants that influence human health and disease. In this Focus Session we will bring together experts in stem cell biology and human genomics to discuss recent progress and challenges in developing cell based functional genomic assays at scale for common diseases in cohort studies, as well as highlight iPSC resources available for genomic research. There will be two sessions:

1) The generation of large scale iPSC cohorts: Highlighting the stem cell core facilities and their roles for developing large cohorts of iPSCs. Organized by members of the COREdinates group.

2) The functional annotation of human genetic variants: Highlighting ongoing efforts in several labs to use large cohorts of iPSCs and genome editing to functionally characterize human genetic variants associated with common disease.

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Critical challenges involved in making large scale human iPSC resources available to a global community

Organized by: Michael Sheldon, PhD, RUCDR Infinite Biologics, Rutgers University, USA

The session will address the major issues associated with ongoing international initiatives for large scale production of collections of iPSC lines. Topics for discussion will include the scientific applications of large collections, establishment of reference lines and standards for quality control, the challenges faced in distributing iPSCs across borders, and the role of funding agencies in support and coordination of large collections. An important thematic emphasis will be on the necessity for standardization and cooperation among the groups in this field from the earliest days. There will be two sessions:

1) Quality Control and Characterization: Data requirements for iPS cells that are accepted by repositories for distribution, identifying a set of characterization assays that should be performed, how best to deal with documenting genomic stability and pluripotency, and repository logistics (sample handling, storage and distribution).

2) Informatics and Global Coordination: Harmonizing the various collections of hiPSCs around the world, working towards the creation of single (or centralized) portal(s) which allow us to search all of the iPS repositories worldwide for a particular line, improving public awareness of the existence of these collections and how they can be accessed. Additionally, the important issues of IP and regulatory hurdles to their dissemination, both to the academic and industrial communities, will be addressed.

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Stem Cell Engineering

Organized by: Kevin E. Healy, PhD, University of California Berkeley, USA and  Todd McDevitt, PhD, Gladstone Institutes, USA

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are unique and important sources for stem cell technologies. Due to their ability to differentiate into a variety of different cell populations, hESCs and hiPSCs are important sources for cell replacement therapies, tissue engineering strategies, and drug development and toxicity assessment. In the last decade, there have been numerous studies that demonstrate proof-of-concept for stem cell-based strategies to encourage the functional regeneration of tissues damaged by injury or disease. Furthermore, a number of groups have exploited hESCs and hiPSCs, differentiated into specific cells types (e.g., cardiomyocytes, hepatocytes) for drug screening and toxicity testing. New technologies are needed to address bottlenecks in exploiting stem cells for these emerging technologies. This symposium will expose attendees to novel engineering approaches in biomanufacturing, pro-survival systems for stem cell transplantation, and microphysiological systems (i.e., organs-on-a-chip). This focus session will appeal to attendees interested in clinical translation of stem cells and those interested in using these cells for drug screening regimens by allowing a pre-clinical drug ‘design and test’ workflow to identify efficacious and low toxicity drugs and drug combinations on various organs.

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