Recognizes a transformative breakthrough that has had a major impact on the field of stem cell research or regenerative medicine.

Current Winner

  • 2019 Winner

    John E. Dick, PhD, FRS

    The 2019 ISSCR Award for Innovation will be presented to John E. Dick, PhD, FRS, Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, and Professor, University of Toronto, Canada at the 2019 Annual Meeting. Dr. Dick’s research into leukemia led to the discovery of leukemia stem cells in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive and often fatal blood cancer. He has tracked how leukemia stem cells arise from normal stem cells, findings that have led to new methods of predicting which individuals in the general population are at risk of developing AML.  Dr. Dick will speak in Plenary IV on Friday, 28 June, at 10:50.


  • Nominee(s) must be independent investigators conducting original research in basic science or clinical development and translation in the field of stem cell research.
  • At least one nominee must be available to attend the ISSCR Annual Meeting if selected as the award recipient.
  • The research recognized should have occurred within the past ten years.
  • The award can be given to an individual OR a group of individuals for the same advance and is not limited to the senior Principal Investigator.  A key junior collaborator who was in the lab of the PI at the time of the discovery can be included with the Principal Investigator in the nominations.
  • Nominee(s) must be an ISSCR member in good standing.


The winner will receive a cash award (to be split among winners if more than one person receives the award), a complimentary registration for the Annual Meeting, and recognition at the Annual Meeting during a plenary session.

Nomination Process

Nominations must be sponsored by two or more people. Nomination letters may be submitted individually or as a single, co-signed letter. Nomination letter(s) (up to two pages) should provide the following:

  • a statement of up to 100 words highlighting the innovation for which the nominee(s) are being nominated

  • an overview of the contributions of the nominee(s) to the field of stem cell research.

A copy of the nominee’s CV(s) and listing of up to five of their most relevant publications must also accompany the nomination letter. Include an electronic version of these publications where possible. 

Past Winners

  • 2018 Co-Winners

    Michele De Luca, MD, and Graziella Pellegrini, PhD

    The 2018 ISSCR Award for Innovation will be presented to Michele De Luca, MD, and Graziella Pellegrini, PhD, Center for Regenerative Medicine, University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy during the Presidential Symposium on Wednesday, 20 June. De Luca and Pellegrini are recognized for their leadership in the field of corneal regeneration and skin replacement therapies and their pioneering work in translating epithelial stem cell research into the clinic.
  • 2017 Winner

    Elaine Fuchs, PhD

    The 2017 McEwen Award for Innovation was presented to Elaine Fuchs, PhD, Rebecca C. Lansfield Professor at The Rockefeller University, and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, U.S., in recognition of her contribution to the understanding of skin stem cells and their application to regenerative medicine, genetic syndromes, and cancers. She has developed many innovative approaches to analyze skin stem cells and their niches and to dissect the complex controls that orchestrate how skin cells make and repair tissues and what goes awry in genetic conditions and malignancies.

  • 2016 Co-Winners

    Austin Smith, PhD, FRS, FRSE & Qi-Long Ying, PhD

    The 2016 McEwen Award for Innovation was presented to Austin Smith, PhD, FRS, FRSE, Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research and Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Qi-Long Ying, PhD, University of Southern California,  in recognition of their contributions to the fundamental understanding of pluripotency and how this knowledge can be leveraged to develop new tools that advance our understanding and treatment of human disease.
  • 2015 Co- Winners

    Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, Irving Weissman, MD

    The 2015 McEwen Award for Innovation was presented to Irving Weissman, MD, Stanford School of Medicine and Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, Hubrecht Institute, in recognition of their long-standing contributions to the field and their identification, prospective purification and characterization of somatic tissue-associated stem cells and advancement of their research findings toward clinical applications.
  • 2014 Winner

    Azim Surani, PhD, CBE, FRS, FMedSci

    The 2014 McEwen Award for Innovation was presented to Azim Surani, PhD,  Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, in recognition of his work on the cellular and molecular specification of the mammalian germ cell lineage. His research has helped uncover how the germ line is established and what molecular mechanisms are responsible for reprogramming the epigenome to achieve the totipotent state.
  • 2013 Winner

    James A. Thomson, PhD

    The 2013 McEwen Award for Innovation was presented to James A. Thomson, PhD for his work that reproducibly isolated pluripotent cell lines from human blastocysts. This discovery opened the door for the study of human embryonic stem cells and revealed new possibilities for developing cell-based therapies, disease models and reagents for toxicity testing. Dr. Thomson is the Director of Regenerative Biology at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison Wisconsin and holds professorships at both the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was presented with his award at the ISSCR 11th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, during the Presidential Symposium on Wednesday, June 12 and was immediately followed by his plenary lecture.
  • 2012 Winner

    Rudolf Jaenisch, MD

    The recipient of the 2012 McEwen Award for Innovation was Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, a leader in biomedical sciences for more than three decades. Dr. Jaenisch is a Founding Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is recognized for his pioneering discoveries in the areas of genetic and epigenetic control of development in mice that directly impact the future potential of embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells for therapeutic utility and has made many seminal discoveries in the fields of virology, cancer, epigenetics and regenerative medicine. Dr. Jaenisch was presented with the award preceding his keynote lecture on Wednesday, June 13, 2012.
  • 2011 Winners

    Kazutoshi Takahashi, PhD & Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD

    The recipients of the 2011 inaugural McEwen Award for Innovation were Kazutoshi Takahashi, PhD, lecturer, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University and Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, director, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, and Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University. The award was given in recognition of their paradigm-shifting work demonstrating the reprogramming of adult/tissue-specific cells using transcription factors that has resulted in a rapid development of novel tools and strategies for use in the pursuit of better understanding and treating disease.