ISSCR 2015 Program Highlights

Co-sponsored by The Wallenberg Institute for Regenerative Medicine


An international delegation of nearly 3,700 attendees met in Stockholm, Sweden for the ISSCR 2015 Annual Meeting.The nearly eighteen hours of daylight provided plenty of light to see the beautiful capital city of Stockholm and the annual meeting at the Stockholmsmassen provided plenty of great stem cell science.

The 2015 annual meeting program committee, chaired by Leonard Zon, developed a diverse scientific program that showcased the latest in basic and translational stem cell research and its progress toward the clinic. During the four-day meeting there were over 130 scientific talks featured in the plenary and concurrent sessions and outside the lecture halls, the exhibition hall was the site of much of the activity with nearly 1,800 posters presentations and 105 exhibiting companies showcasing the latest technology. Additional events such as the poster receptions, the Meet the Experts Networking Lunch, and Junior Investigator Social Event gave additional opportunities for trainees and young investigators to network during the meeting. For those that arrived in Stockholm early, there were several pre-meeting events available to attendees including the member-coordinated Focus Sessions that cover in-depth, topics in science, society and education. While it is not possible to capture all aspects of the meeting, some of the significant events and memorable moments are highlighted below.

Pre-meeting Education

The day before the annual meeting, the ISSCR held a Workshop on Clinical Translation. This 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. This highly interactive event was very well received and we look forward to holding a similar workshop at the ISSCR 2016 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, U.S.

Public Symposium

The evening of 23 June, the ISSCR organized a public symposium on "Stem Cells and the Aging Brain." This event was open to the public and featured presentations from an international panel of speakers. The program was preceeded by an interactive reception, which included games and hands-on activities for those interested in learning more about stem cells and the body. The reception was provided by EuroStemCell in collaboration with the European Commision-funded research consortia PluriMes, ThymiStem and Neurostemcellrepair, along with the Wellcome Trust MRC-Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge.

Plenary and Concurrent Program

As the ISSCR 2015 Annual Meeting kicked off with the Presidential Symposium, attendees were officially welcomed to the event by Anders Lonnberg, the Swedish government's national coordinator of life sciences and Anders Hamsten, the vice chancellor of the Karolinska Institutet. Rudolf Jaenisch (ISSCR President 2014-2015) highlighted the important accomplishments of the ISSCR during the past year including a revision of the ISSCR's Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation of Stem Cells, the continued success of Stem Cell Reports, the official journal of the ISSCR and the continued role of the society as a trusted voice in public discussion on scientific and ethical issues. The Presidential Symposium focused on the manipulation of stem cells in disease and development and featured presentations from Fred H. GageJuergen KnoblichShinya Yamanaka andJeannie Lee who gave the Anne McLaren Memorial Lecture. The opening days events were concluded by Hiromitsu Nakauchi who gave the Ernst McCulloch Memorial Lecture.

During the annual meeting three awards were given by the ISSCR in recognition of outstanding contribution to stem cell research. The McEwen Award for Innovation was presented to Irving Weissman and Hans Clevers for their pioneering work on hematopoietic and intestinal stem cells, respectively. The ISSCR Public Service Award was presented to Alan Trounson for his contributions of public service to the fields of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. Later in the week Paul Tesar, was presented with the ISSCR-BD Biosciences Oustanding Young Investigator Award and spoke about the exciting progress towards the generation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and their potential application to treat demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

The ISSCR is delighted to announce a new annual award The Tobias Award Lecture,  beginning at the ISSCR 2016 Annual Meeting. The Tobias Award Lecture, supported by the Tobias Foundation of Sweden, will recognize important basic, translational or clinical stem cell research related to hematology. The announcement of this new award was made in conjunction with the Patient Advocate Address presented by Marcus Storch, who spoke about his journey to founding the Tobias Foundation and the Tobias Register, a Swedish registry for bone marrow donors named in memory of his son, Tobias Storch.             

With so much stem cell research moving toward clinical translation, including some treatments now in early phase trials, it was only fitting that the annual meeting was brought to a close with the final plenary session on making tissues and organs. This session included a highly anticipated presentation by Masayo Takahashi who currently leads a clinical trial to treat retinal degenration with iPS-derived retinal pigmented epithelia. Other highlights of the session were Sean Morrison's President-elect address that outlined his vision for the society in the upcoming year and a very entertaining and impressive closing Keynote Lecture by Robert Langer.

The ISSCR would like to thank everyone for attending the ISSCR 2015 Annual Meeting and making it so successful. We look forward to seeing you in 2016 in San Francisco.