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ISSCR Announces Recipients of 2018 Awards

  • 14 March, 2018

The ISSCR today announces the recipients of its 2018 awards, to be presented at the society’s annual meeting, 20-23 June in Melbourne, Australia.

  • ISSCR Award for Innovation: Michele De Luca, MD, and Graziella Pellegrini, PhD, Full Professors at the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Center for Regenerative Medicine, University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy;
  • ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator: Shuibing Chen, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemical Biology in Surgery and in Biochemistry, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, U.S.;
  • ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture: Connie Eaves, PhD, FRS (Canada), Distinguished Scientist, Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer, and Professor of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;
  • Public Service Award: Megan Munsie, PhD, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for Stem Cell Systems, The University of Melbourne, and Head of Education, Ethics, Law & Community Awareness Unit, Stem Cells Australia, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

The ISSCR Award for Innovation 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.

Michele De Luca directs the Centre for Regenerative Medicine “Stefano Ferrari,” and is Gene Therapy Program Coordinator, and Graziella Pellegrini leads the Cell Therapy Program at the Centre. They are recognized as leaders in the field of corneal regeneration and skin replacement therapies.

“De Luca and Pellegrini have pioneered how epithelial stem cell research is translated into the clinic,” said ISSCR President Hans Clevers. “They developed innovative conditions for the culture of patient-derived limbal (eye) stem cells, using them to restore vision loss in patients with eye injuries and this treatment became available for all EU patients; they also combined cell and gene therapy to successfully treat a patient suffering from an aggressive skin disease, epidermolysis bullosa,” he said.

De Luca will speak in Plenary V, Stem Cell Based Disease Modeling, on Friday, 22 June, 16:00-18:00.

Pellegrini will present in Plenary I, Presidential Symposium, on Wednesday 20 June, 13:00-15:15.

The ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator recognizes exceptional achievements by an ISSCR member and investigator in the early part of their independent career in stem cell research.

The 2018 recipient, Chen, is recognized as a rising star in the field for her innovative chemical approaches in pluripotent stem cell research, with major contributions in drug screening techniques, and in human disease modeling, genetic testing, and organoid development.

“Chen has developed cutting-edge chemical approaches in many applications,” said Clevers. “She has become a key player in human disease modeling, and discovered the first drug capable of preventing and treating Zika virus disease in organoids and mice, setting new standards for research in the future,” he said.

Chen will present her research in Plenary IV, New Technologies in Stem Cell Engineering, on Friday 22 June, 09:00-11:10.

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 Eaves is an internationally recognized leader and authority on stem cells of the blood-forming system and how their properties change over time and by type. Her discovery of the diversity of blood cell characteristics has been influential in the field, with specific implications for the development of leukemia in patients of different ages.

“Eaves’ contributions to the understanding of blood stem cells have been instrumental to the field,” said Clevers. “Her rigorous approaches to the study of blood stem cell transplants and maintenance have been transformative, and provide valuable insights into many areas of stem cell research now being translated to the clinic,” he said.

Eaves will present her research in Plenary I, on Wednesday 20 June, 13:00-15:10.

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.

The 2018 recipient, Megan Munsie, is a stem cell scientist who has made a significant contribution for many years to public outreach and advocacy to policy makers around issues associated with stem cell science and its translation to the clinic. Her work is global in scope, grounded in academic research, and relies on her collaborative partnerships with key community and professional groups to address important ethical and regulatory considerations critical to advancing the field. She played an important role in guiding content development for A Closer Look at Stem Cells, the ISSCR website dedicated to helping the public understand the biology and clinical applications of stem cells, and to the ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation.

“Munsie is committed to increasing community understanding about the field of stem cell research,” said ISSCR CEO Nancy Witty. “That commitment is particularly apparent in her work with patients who are so important to this research as it is translated to medicine,” she said.