There is no better host city for the ISSCR 2018 annual meeting than Melbourne, Australia, a global hub of innovation in science and biotech with a rich stem cell history, flourishing research culture, and inspiring natural beauty and art. I had the pleasure of doing a brief sabbatical in the city a few years ago, and highly recommend you visit, both to share and learn about exciting stem cell science, and to stay a few extra days and experience one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Registration is open for the meeting, scheduled for 20-23 June at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia.
Leader in Research and Industry
Melbourne is home to a number of major research institutions that are rapidly moving research forward, constituting the largest hub of stem cell research Down Under. The list includes the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI), the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research (WEHI), Monash University, the University of Melbourne, and more.
Research from Melbourne has had a significant impact on the field, and local scientists are credited with two technologies widely used in labs around the world today: the identification and use of colony-stimulating factors as crucial tools to dissect the mechanisms of the circulatory system; and discovery of the pivotal role that Leukemia Inhibitory Factor plays in culturing pluripotent embryonic stem cells. In more recent years, Melbourne laboratories have been some of the first in the world to establish human embryonic stem cell lines.
The lab at Murdoch Children's Research Institute
Melissa Little, the 2018 Program Committee chair and head of the Kidney Research Lab at MCRI, guided development of an outstanding scientific program for ISSCR 2018, with several presentations from notable Australian researchers. Patrick Tam will deliver the featured Anne McLaren Memorial lecture during Plenary II on 20 June. In addition, Jane Visvader, whose work first demonstrated that a single stem cell can generate an entire solid organ, will present in Plenary VI, 23 June; others, speaking on 22 June, include Andrew Elefanty, with recent advances in hematopoietic and blood vessel disease modeling; Clare Parish, focusing on iPS cells and neurodegenerative diseases; and Peter Currie on the newest insights in muscle development.
A robust stem cell biotechnology industry in Melbourne is driving business and innovation in the city. Representatives from several of the nearly 180 biotechnology companies the province (Victoria), will join with others from around the world to share their work at Innovation Showcases Thursday and Friday morning (21, 22 June). Industry leaders will also participate in Focus Sessions on Wednesday morning, 20 June, with speakers focusing in-depth on a diversity of science topics.
Australia is also a leader in translating discoveries from the bench to bedside, with nearly 20 stem cell therapeutic clinical trials underway.
Natural Beauty, Attractions Down Under
Melbourne is a metropolitan city with extensive dining options and a vibrant night life, surrounded by a beautiful coastline and natural beauty. Along with city-based attractions like the bayfront observation deck, museums and promenade, there are outdoor markets, historic sites, an aquarium and zoo, and other sights within walking distance of the city center.
If you do have time to vacation, the ISSCR is partnering with local tourism groups to offer a number of tours within the city limits of Melbourne, and also in nearby areas, including the Grampians National Park and Philip Island, where you can get close to the country’s unique wildlife, and the renowned Royal Botanic Gardens. If you have time for an overnight trip, you can visit the Yarra Valley wine country and other nearby towns.
Some of the most interesting and popular travel destinations in the world are right outside Melbourne, and one of my favorites is the famous Great Ocean Road drive with incredible vistas and aquatic wildlife. Further north is the Great Barrier reef with hundreds of islands and miles of coral reef and, if you have more time, you can head south to Tasmania or see your favorite Lord of the Rings locales in nearby New Zealand, both short plane rides away.
This year’s annual meeting in Melbourne is an opportunity you won’t want to miss: network and make lasting connections with colleagues from around the globe, attend talks from renowned leaders and rising stars in the field, and make plans to visit attractions in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
I look forward to seeing you in June Down Under!