ISSCR 2013 Program Highlights

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI)

Overview

In June 2013, the ISSCR returned to Boston, Massachusetts for the first time since 2004, as a record-breaking number of more than 4,100 attendees joined us for the ISSCR 11th Annual Meeting, co-sponsored by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

We would like to thank the 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee, chaired by Dr. George Q. Daley, for developing a scientific program that reflected the strength and diversity of the stem cell field. Covering a wide range of topics and featuring an international lineup of speakers, many of whom were first-time presenters, this year’s meeting featured seven plenary sessions, 20 concurrent tracks spread over four sessions and other networking and educational sessions. New to this year’s meeting were the three-minute “Poster Briefs,” which allowed high-scoring poster abstract presenters the opportunity to give a three-slide oral talk during a relevant concurrent session in addition to their poster that evening. This addition to the program brought the total number of speakers to 198, and more than 1,800 posters were presented over three evening poster receptions, both records for an ISSCR Annual Meeting. The ISSCR thanks everyone who presented, and we extend our congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Junior Investigator Poster Awards (listed below). We also congratulate the recipients of the 2013 Travel Awards, sponsored by the ISSCR and BD Biosciences.

Public Symposium

During the evening of Tuesday, June 11, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) presented a Public Symposium in association with the ISSCR that featured nine Harvard-affiliated scientists presenting their work. The presentation were followed by a panel discussion with excellent and thought-provoking questions from the audience. The ISSCR would like to especially thank Brock Reeve and Maureen Herrmann at the HSCI for putting together an excellent event.

Pre-meeting Sessions

Prior to the start of the annual meeting, Wednesday morning attendees took part in the Industry Wednesday Symposia (IWS) and Focus Sessions that offered in-depth looks at a variety of topics in stem cell science. A total of two IWS sessions and two Focus Sessions were held and immediately preceded the start of the main program Wednesday afternoon. The ISSCR thanks Thermo Fisher Scientific and PerkinElmer for participating in the IWS sessions and the ISSCR Ethics and Public Policy Committee, Stem Cell COREdinates and the Allen Institute of Brain Science for organizing the Focus Sessions.

Plenary and Concurrent Program

The ISSCR 11th Annual Meeting opened with the Presidential Symposium and opening remarks, first by David Scadden who reflected on the growth of the ISSCR and stem cell research since the last Boston meeting in 2004, and followed by President Shinya Yamanaka who took a look back at his career in science, including his history presenting at ISSCR meetings dating back to a poster presented at the Boston meeting in 2004. Immediately following these [0233] remarks, the third annual McEwen Award for Innovation was presented to James A. Thomson, who was recognized for his work that reproducibly isolated pluripotent cell lines from human blastocysts, which was the first step in the study of human embryonic stem cells. Following the presentation of this award, Dr. Thomson gave the first talk of the session, which also included presentations by Douglas A. Melton, Edith Heard and Richard A. Young. The session closed with the sixth annual Anne McLaren Memorial Lecture, which was given by Dr. Elaine Fuchs who provided an excellent overview of her lab’s work using the skin as a model system for understanding stem cell behavior, tissue regeneration and cancer.

In addition to the McEwen Award for Innovation, two other awards were presented throughout the meeting. The third annual ISSCR Public Service Award was presented to Hiromitsu and Betty Ogawa in recognition of their extraordinary support of stem cell research in Japan and the USA, inc

Continuing a tradition that started in 2011, the ISSCR invited a patient advocate to address the meeting attendees. This year, Andrés Treviño shared his family’s moving story of how his son, Andy, was born with a life-threatening disease of the immune system and whose life was saved by an umbilical cord blood transplant from his younger sister, Sofia. Watch his talk now on ISSCR Connect (available to the public; simply register an account for access).luding support for Shinya Yamanaka, the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco, California, and their work with the ISSCR Global Advisory Council. Later in themeeting, Marius Wernig was presented with the University of Pittsburgh-ISSCR Outstanding Young Investigator Award for his work showing that previously specified cells can be reprogrammed directly to other distantly related cell types.

This year’s meeting marked several firsts and new records for the ISSCR. On Friday morning, a plenary session that was jointly organized by the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy was the first such session at an ISSCR annual meeting to be dedicated entirely to translational research. The new Poster Brief format allowed more high-scoring poster presenters the chance to speak during concurrent sessions, and a record number of abstract submissions meant a greater number of presentations (both oral and poster) than in previous ISSCR Annual Meetings. Finally, the ISSCR’s new online, open-access journal Stem Cell Reports had its debut issue concurrent with the annual meeting, and all meeting attendees received a free hardcopy of the issue.

The final plenary session of the meeting opened with an address from President-Elect Janet Rossant, who described her vision for the upcoming year, including a bold new communciations strategy and the development of a translational and clinical research course. This year’s meeting concluded closing keynote was delivered by Dr. Eric Lander, who gave a fascinating talk about the secrets of the human genome that have been uncovered through the process of its sequencing and afterwards, including his recent work with non-coding RNAs.