Annual Meeting Focus Sessions

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 on the morning of Wednesday, 22 June and spark rigorous discussions on topics being brought up in research labs across the globe.

Who should attend
All registered annual meeting attendees are encouraged to attend Wednesday morning Focus Sessions as part of their ISSCR 2016 registration.

Find more information on scheduled sessions below.

Session Information

Wednesday, 22 June
9:00 - 12:00
Located in Moscone West Convention Center

 Looking for information on hosting a focus session? Click here.

Fighting Cancer with Off-the-Shelf iPSC Immunotherapies

Presented by: Fate Therapeutics

This session will provide an in-depth analysis of the recent progress, current bottlenecks and therapeutic potential of applying induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology for the development of transformative, off-the-shelf cellular immunotherapies, including engineered NK- and T-cell immunotherapies, for cancer. The speakers will cover topics spanning basic research to clinical development including:

  • Generating genetically-engineered, naïve iPSCs for therapeutic applications
  • Differentiation and industrial-scale expansion of iPSCs into cell types of the hematopoietic lineage
  • Disruptive potential of iPSC-derived, engineered NK- and T-cell immunotherapies for treatment of cancer

This session is for scientists, clinicians, and product planning professionals interested in stem cell biology and related fields in capacities spanning basic research, translational medicine and commercialization.


Time Slot Talk Speaker
9:00 - 9:10 Welcome
Program Introduction:
Fighting Cancer with Off-the-Shelf iPSC Immunotherapies
Daniel Shoemaker
9:10 - 9:40 Better Cells for Better Therapies:
Basic Biology & Genomic Engineering of Human iPSCs

Rudolf Jaenisch
9:40 - 10:10 Harnessing Hematopoiesis:
Creating the Ideal Platform for Large-Scale Expansion of iPSC-Derived, Engineered Hematopoietic Cells
Bob Valamehr
10:10 - 10:40 iPSC Derived NKs:
Targeting Cancer with an Engineered , iPSC-Derived NK Cell
Dan Kaufman
10:40 - 11:10 iPSC Derived CAR-Ts:
Targeting Cancer with an Engineered, iPSC-Derived T Cell
Michel Sadelain
11:10 - 11:40 Clinical & Commercial Translation of iPSC Therapies:
Considerations for Advancing iPSC-Derived Therapeutics into the Clinic and onto the Market
Stewart Abbot
11:40 - 11:50 Closing Remarks:
Path Forward for Off-the-Shelf iPSC Cellular Immunotherapies
Daniel Shoemaker

Speaker Affiliations:

Daniel Shoemaker, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Fate Therapeutics, Inc

Rudolf Jaenisch, MD
Professor of Biology, MIT
Member, Whitehead Institute
Member, Institute of Medicine

Bob Valamehr, PhD
Executive Director, Reprogramming Biology
Fate Therapeutics, Inc

Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD
‎Professor, Department of Medicine
Director of Cell Therapy Program

University of California-San Diego

Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD
Director, Center for Cell Engineering & Gene Transfer and Gene Expression Laboratory
Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Stewart Abbot, PhD
Chief Development Officer
Fate Therapeutics, Inc

Tools for Basic and Applied Stem Cell Biology

Presented by: STEMCELL Technologies and Thermo Fisher Scientific

This session is organized by Stem Cell COREdinates (, a consortium of human pluripotent stem cell-focused shared facilities that have joined forces to share experiences, expertise with protocols and reagents, and to establish “best practices”. This open line of communication has helped to disseminate critical information that make science more reproducible; such details are often left out of scientific publications. We share our experience with the field by making protocols available online at and Our focus session will be divided into two sessions:

  • Selected COREdinates consortium member lab presentations from core facilities highlighting bioengineering, disease modeling and cell therapies.
  • Panel discussion on pluripotent stem cell-based therapies. A conversation on the strategies, challenges and opportunities for pluripotent stem cell-based therapies. Panelists will include groups that are actively developing and manufacturing cell therapies.

This session is for pluripotent stem cell biologists interested in basic and applied applications.


1) Selected presentations from Stem Cell COREdinates member labs highlighting bioengineering, disease modeling and cell therapies.

Session Chair: Rich Gronostajski, University of Buffalo, Director of Western New York Stem Cell Culture and Analysis Center (WNYSTEM)

9:00am            Overview of COREdinates

9:05am           Laurent David, Implementing human naïve pluripotent stem cell generation in iPSC core facilities.       

9:20am           Michael Riedel, STEMCELL Technologies, Standardized tools for iPS cell generation and characterization

9:30am           Deborah French, University of Pennsylvania, Genome edited iPSCs: creating tools for making blood.           

9:45am           Alex Alderton, Sanger Institute, 10 years of iPSCs; Making them is easy now isn’t it?          

10:00am         Brigette Arduini, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Materials-based and high content approaches to stem cell research.

10:15am         David Kuninger, Associate Director R&D, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Differentiation as a means to developing physiologically relevant cells for disease modeling and toxicology

10:25am          Isabelle Rivière, Sloan Kettering Institute, Core facilities for cell manufacturing applications.

10:40-11:00     Break

2) Panel discussion on pluripotent stem cell-based therapies: Panel discussion on the strategies, challenges and opportunities for pluripotent stem cell-based therapies. The panelists are selected from groups that are actively developing and manufacturing pluripotent stem cell therapies.

Session Chair: Stefan Irion, Sloan Kettering Institute, Program Manager of NYSTEM-funded Parkinson’s disease project led by Lorenz Studer

  • Katharine Spink, Chief Operating Officer from Asterias
  • Kevin D’Amour, Vice President, Research and Chief Scientific Officer from Viacyte
  • Joseph Gold, Assistant Director, Translational Research from the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute
  • Lorenz Studer, Director, Center for Stem Cell Biology from Memorial Sloan Kettering
Humanity in a Dish

Presented by: WiCell Research Institute

The Next Generation Genetic Association Studies (Next Gen) program is a five-year, $80 million program to investigate functional genetic variation in humans by assessing cellular profiles that are surrogates for disease phenotypes. To achieve this, consortium researchers have derived iPS cell lines from more than 1,500 individuals representing various conditions (left ventricular hypertrophy, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell disease, etc.) as well as healthy controls (including some from the Framingham Heart Study), resulting in an extensive panel of cell lines with unprecedented diversity. Extensive characterization, including phenotyping, genome sequencing, gene expression, and –omics analysis (e.g., lipidomic, proteomic, methylomic) has resulted in a rich resource to perform advanced “Disease in a Dish” investigative research. In this session, Next Gen consortium members will present findings on their individual cohorts, as well as analyses performed across all 9 studies, highlighting the impact of genetic variation on disease pathology. This session is for investigators interested in functional genomics, and those studying disorders related to heart, lung, and blood. Also, investigators interested whole genome sequencing data, and obtaining materials for use in alternate studies that has extensive characterization data, including genomic data, associated. Please note that this session will end at 12:30.

Moderator: Cashell Jaquish (NIH HHLBI, USA)

 Invited Speakers


Dr. Curtis Warren (Cowan Laboratory, Harvard University, USA)


Humanity in a Dish: Uncovering the Common Genetic Basis for Human Metabolic Disease with iPSCs.


Dr. Evanthia Pashos (Rader Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, USA)


Modeling lipid-associated hepatic regulatory variation in iPS-hepatocytes.


Ivan Carcamo-Orive (Quertermous Laboratory, Stanford University, USA)


Human iPSC transcriptional variability and complex disease modeling.


Dr. Linzhao Cheng (Johns Hopkins University, USA)


Human iPSC derivation and genome editing for modeling blood and vascular diseases.


Dr. George Murphy (Boston University, USA)


iPSC-based modeling and discovery in blood-borne disease.




Dr. Kristin Baldwin (The Scripps Research Institute, USA)


Unraveling genetic risk for coronary artery disease using large scale genome editing of iPSCs.


Dr. Marlene Rabinovitch (Stanford University, USA)


IPSC Differentiated to Endothelial Cells Reveal New Modifiers of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension


Dr. Ulrich Broeckel (Medical College of Wisconsin, USA)


Functional Analysis of iPSC-derived Cardiomyoyctes to Understand Cardiac Disease Mechanisms


Dr. Kelly Frazer (University of California San Diego, USA)


Genetic determinants of gene expression in a collection of 215 human induced pluripotent stem cells


Dr. Rasika Mathias (Johns Hopkins University, USA)


Overview of genomic integrity of hiPSC across nine independent studies.

Detailed Agenda with Abstracts and Speaker Bios

A Practical Guide to Starting a Company 

Presented by: The ISSCR Industry Committee

Join us for the Industry Committee session featuring inspirational talks from people who have succeeded in building their own companies. What are insider tips on how to actually translate your idea from concept to a company? Do you see an unmet need and a possible way to solve it? 

This session will provide practical tools and advice to help scientists take the leap to start their own company and will cover a range of topics: evaluating an idea and creating a plan to move it forward, navigating licensing the product, building a winning team, pitching the idea to both investors and customers and developing the product. Bring your questions as the audience will be invited to pose questions to the panel of speakers. In the final portion of the session, our panelists will provide an insider perspective on developing a successful start-up business plan and avoiding major pitfalls. In this roundtable discussion you will have the opportunity to pose questions, even briefly present your ideas and gain feedback.

Ethical Implications of Genome Editing Technologies

Presented by: The ISSCR Ethics Committee

Recent advances in mitochondrial replacement techniques as well as the exploitation of engineered recombinant nucleases have provided facile and reliable methods for genome editing. In particular, with the development of the CRISPR/Cas9 system and the discovery of various versions of Cas9 proteins and delivery carriers, it is now conceptually possible to introduce targeted mutations in the human germline, to correct disease-related mutations, and to activate or suppress genes of interest. In advancing toward clinical application, there are, however, unknown risks to human health and well-being, and a fundamental socio-ethical debate regarding the moral acceptability of modifying the human germline is needed. 

Join us for a dialogue on the socio-ethical implications of human germline genome modification research, and consider the relevant guidelines and legislation in different countries. Five speakers will present scientific, regulatory and ethical challenges, followed by a moderated discussion.

How EBiSC can help researchers in accessing high-quality research-grade iPSC lines

Presented by: EBiSC (European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells)

This session is organized by the EBiSC consortium, a 3-years research project aiming to set up the not-for-profit European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC).

We share our experience on:

  • the establishment of an iPS cell bank with core and mirror facilities,
  • the set-up of a robust and reliable supply chain for iPS lines including the generation of disease specific, control, gene edited and isogenic cell lines,
  • standardized work flows from tissue procurement to generation, characterisation, preservation and supply
  • standardized quality control expansion and
  • the set-up of the ethical and legal governance structure for stem cell banking and distribution (informed consents, patient engagement, EBiSC MDA/AUA).

The Focus Session which will be supported by public funding targets both, academic and commercial scientist using iPSC in disease modeling and other forms of pre-clinical research. We also seek interactions with the attendees to discuss research needs and opportunities to engage with EBiSC. This session is for academic and commercial scientists generating iPSC and/or using them in disease modelling and other forms of pre-clinical research.


Time Slot Talk Speaker
8:30 - 9:00 Welcome coffee for focus session delegates
9:00 - 10:30 The EBiSC Project
1 Introduction to EBiSC Timothy Allsopp (Stem Cell & Cell Therapy lead, Pfizer Ltd, UK)
2 Building a European iPSC collection meeting research demand Julie Holder (Roslin Cells Sciences, UK)
3 Demonstration of the EBiSC Catalogue (
Laura Clarke
(European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute, UK)

4 Setting quality control standards to enhance research
Glyn Stacey (National Institute for Biological Standards & Control, UK)
5 Establishing a unique ethical and legal governance structure for international iPSC banking
Aidan Courtney (Roslin Cells Sciences, UK)
10:30 - 11:00 Networking Break
11:00 - 12:00 Delivering a robust iPSC resource - Panel Session
6 Initial cell line catalogue users from academia and industry will share their EBiSC experiences with you. With the panelists in a Q&A session, understand more as to how EBiSC fits into the global iPS research landscape and explore how the EBiSC approach can meet your research needs now and facilitate future collaborations.
Timothy Allsopp (Stem Cell & Cell Therapy lead, Pfizer Ltd, UK) & Aidan Courtney (Roslin Cells Sciences, UK) 
12:00 Closure
How Researchers Anywhere Can Use CIRM Funds to Advance Stem Cell Science

Presented by: The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

Over the past year CIRM has completely overhauled its funding system. It is now speedier, taking just 120 days from application to funding in hand for clinical programs. CIRM has made it easier for companies and research teams outside of California to use CIRM funds for trial sites or other work done in California and have also created an incentive program offering $150,000 seed funding to basic research teams who pass along their projects to the next stage of translation. CIRM has also created an Accelerating Center and a Translation Center to help with pre-IND work, IND filing, trial design and execution. Clinical and translational researchers from all over the globe as well as basic researchers from California are invited to learn how you can partner with CIRM to advance your stem cell science, regardless of stage, toward the clinic. Please note that this session will end at 10:30.


C. Randal Mills, Ph.D.
President and CEO

Patricia Olson, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Discovery & Translation

Maria T. Millan, M.D.
Senior Director
Medical Affairs & Strategic Centers

Abla Creasey, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Therapeutics


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