2016 Year in Review

Sally Temple, Phd

Neural Stem Cell Institute
ISSCR President

2016 was an eventful year in stem cell science, with significant advances that furthered understanding of regenerative systems, human biology and disease modeling, and moved forward numerous programs in clinical translation. During the year, the ISSCR continued to support the field and its members, as it has throughout its 15-year history. As a member of the ISSCR, you play a key role in supporting the society’s many endeavors, which include advocating to policy makers on behalf of the field, communicating with the public and the media about new discoveries and the promise of stem cell science, and providing the opportunity for researchers around the world to come together at scientific meetings and events, to share their work and engage in important discussions that shape the field.

As president, I want to share with you some of the society’s activities in 2016, and preparations for

Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation
In the spring, the ISSCR released the 2016 Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation, creating a single comprehensive resource that updated and expanded earlier documents: Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, 2006; and Guidelines for the Clinical Translation of Stem Cells, 2008. This newly integrated set of principles and best practices helps drive progress in basic, translational, and clinical research, to ensure that we move forward with appropriate rigor, oversight, and transparency in all aspects of stem cell research, and emphasize research integrity, patient welfare, and social justice.

Many thanks to the ISSCR guidelines task force, led by Jonathan Kimmelman and George Daley, for the countless hours spent discussing and revising the guidelines, and ensuring that they address new and emerging areas of stem cell discovery and application. And thanks to you for helping to spread the word about the guidelines among colleagues around the world.
Policy and Media Outreach
The ISSCR and its Policy Committee, chaired by past president Sean Morrison, met frequently in 2016 to discuss issues that impact the conduct of stem cell research and translation around the globe. The committee developed several key policy positions, including: Promotion of rigorous standards in translation of stem cell science to the clinic, including advocating for the important role regulatory bodies can play and speaking out about proposals that would undermine the strength of clinical trials. In the U.S., the ISSCR expressed opposition to the REGROW Act and support for the 21st Century Cures Act, as long as it continues to uphold a rigorous clinical approval process. In Australia, we provided comments to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration on the regulation of autologous cell and tissue based products. The policy committee is poised to take on new challenges in 2017, including potential changes that could dramatically affect our field with the incoming administration in the U.S.
Communication and Public Outreach
Media outreach continues throughout the year, as we highlight advances in stem cell research, ISSCR activities including the annual meeting, and the responsible development of regenerative medicine. The ISSCR was mentioned in more than 2700 news articles last year, with guidelines coverage in more than 365 news outlets worldwide.

ISSCR provides information for the public on its A Closer Look at Stem Cells website, including facts on what is known and unknown about stem cell therapies, and information for those considering participating in clinical trials. A blog on the site focuses on timely topics in the field. In 2016, ISSCR launched a Spanish version of the site and the Patient Handbook translation was expanded to 12 languages, increasing the reach of this key document.

Through its journal, Stem Cell Reports, this year achieving an impact factor of 7.0, ISSCR supports the publication of important advances. Since the first edition in June 2013, the journal has published 579 articles.
Scientific Programming for Members and the Field
The ISSCR and its Policy Committee, chaired by past president Sean Morrison, met frequently in 2016 to discuss issues that impact the conduct of stem cell research and translation around the globe. The committee developed several key policy positions, including:
  • ISSCR 2016 Annual Meeting in San Francisco hosted 3,500 scientists from more than 55
    countries sharing science and exchanging ideas about stem cell research. The scientific program showcased cutting-edge advances across the breadth of stem cell science, and included around 200 talks (120 of which were invited from oral abstracts), and presentations by patient advocates, reminding us of the real-world impact of our research. As the field develops, related technologies also advance, and 143 companies exhibited their latest innovations. The 2017 annual meeting in Boston promises to be very exciting, with an outstanding lineup of speakers and exhibitors, and we look forward to welcoming you to this world-leading gathering of stem cell scientists.
  • International Symposia were held in Dresden, Kyoto, and Florence. ISSCR partners and cosponsors are key to bringing high quality science programming to audiences who attend these focused meetings in countries around the world. In 2017, Translational Opportunities in Stem Cell Research will be held 27 February – 1 March in Basel, Switzerland.
  • Webinars for members include topics related to career development, and how to translate basic research into the clinic. In 2016, topics included: Understanding the Clinical Use of MSCs, Preclinical Development for Cellular Therapy Products, and numerous webinars profiling non-academic scientific careers, and more.
  • Workshop on Clinical Translation this year was co-organized with the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT) and focused on moving translational projects into the clinic using case studies of therapies for neural repair and hematopoietic and immunologic diseases. In 2017, the workshop will focus on how to prepare an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for cellular therapies.
  • CASC preparation: In 2017, we will debut a new Clinical Advances in Stem Cells (CASC) program at the Boston meeting to engage audiences in new therapy development and delivery, and expand our clinical programing.


I want to thank you for your steadfast support and involvement in the ISSCR as we work together to
advance this exciting field that looks to uncover the intriguing biology of stem cells and accelerate the
development of safe and effective regenerative treatments for patients. We welcome your input. Please
send your comments about ISSCR activities and programs to isscr@isscr.org. Looking forward to seeing you in Boston at ISSCR 2017!

Check out 2015 at a glance

Advanced Public Policy Engagement – Championed by ISSCR President Sean Morrison of Children's Research Institute at UT Southwestern, this new initiative will allow us to be actively engaged in the shaping of stem cell-related public policy around the world. ISSCR Director of Policy Kevin Wilson explains, “As the field of stem cell research develops, with the ultimate goal of developing treatments and cures, it remains critically important that policy makers around the world make the right policy decisions for the right reasons and with the right information.” See regular updates from the Policy Brief newsletter..

Launched an Expanded Public Education Website – Patients and their families can find information on basic stem cell biology, the process by which science becomes medicine, clinical trials and the use of stem cells in understanding specific health conditions such as macular degeneration and multiple sclerosis on www.closerlookatstemcells.org. This newly updated public resource helps them understand your research and to make informed decisions about stem cell treatments, clinics and their health.

Updated Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation – This initiative represents an effort by a Guidelines Revision Task Force led by Dr. Jonathan Kimmelman of McGill University, working on behalf of the ISSCR board of directors and the ISSCR membership, to revise and update our existing guidance documents in response to the evolving scientific landscape and ethical considerations pertinent to the ISSCR’s mission of advancing stem cell science and its application to human disease. Members submitted their feedback during the summer, and the new guidelines will be released in early 2016.

Widened Webinar SeriesMembers and the public have been viewing more live and on-demand programs this year, including the multi-part regenerative medicine series with contributions from 2015 ISSCR-BD Biosciences Outstanding Young Investigator Award winner Dr. Paul Tesar of Case Western Reserve University. We also continued the popular series Cancer and Stem CellsStem Cells as ToolsTranslational Know-How, and Building Organs with Stem Cells, as well as annual meeting and international symposia highlights on ISSCR Connect.

Introduced Workshop on Clinical Translation This new one-day workshop featured speakers with real-life clinical translational projects who shared important aspects of the translational pathway in a small group setting followed by a networking reception. The highly interactive event was very well received and we look forward to continuing the workshop at the ISSCR 2016 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, U.S.

Held Widely Attended Annual Meeting in Stockholm The delegation of nearly 3,700 participants from more than 60 countries attended over 130 scientific talks during the four-day meeting. The program committee, chaired by Dr. Leonard Zon of Boston Children's Hospital, developed a diverse scientific program that showcased the latest in basic and translational stem cell research and its progress toward the clinic.

The exhibition hall was the site of much of the activity with 105 exhibiting companies showcasing the latest technology and nearly 1,800 posters presentations. Among many highlights of the meeting, top posters were honored from young scientists, graduate students and post-docs, including: Jiho Choi - Harvard University; Hannah Litwin - Karolinska Institutet; Stephanie Protze - McEwen Center for Regenerative Medicine; Tammy Ryan - University of Guelph; Julius Steinbeck - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Check out 2014 at a glance

Expanded live and on-demand webinar series ISSCR Connect programs helped members stay informed and engaged without leaving their desks with series including Cancer and Stem Cells, Stem Cells as Tools, Translational Know-How, and Building Organs with Stem Cells, as well as annual meeting and regional forum highlights.

Continued public education Since its introduction last January, the Stem Cells in Focus public blog and webinar series has explored different stem cell-related topics. Additionally, 2014 saw new ways to engage with the community, and we were proud to have member volunteers at the USA Science and Engineering Festival.

Strengthened the stem cell communityOur community of 4,000 members across 55+ countries grew closer this year with the introduction of our Member Spotlights. From curious collections, to strange college jobs to favorite foods, members took time to get to know their colleagues and contemporaries.

Formed new partnershipsWe were pleased to announce the Stem Cell Podcast as the official podcast of the ISSCR. Now available on the ISSCR website, members stay up-to-date on recent literature and trends and learn from in-depth interviews with experts from the stem cell field.

Diversified speakers at ISSCR 2014 The ISSCR expanded the breadth of its program at the 2014 meeting in Vancouver, with new opportunities for networking and collaboration. Nearly 75 percent of speakers presented work for the first time or for the first time in more than five years, including 63 abstract selected speakers.

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