ISSCR 2018 Program Highlights

Co-sponsored by the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research (ASSCR)

The ISSCR 2018 Annual Meeting went “down under” to Melbourne, Australia where 3,000 stem cell scientists, clinicians, and professionals from 52 countries gathered to share their latest research, network with colleagues, and explore the latest technologies driving the field forward.

A signature of the ISSCR Annual Meeting is the quality and breadth of the science presented, and this year was no exception. The broad impact of stem cell science was reflected in the opening plenary session, the Presidential Symposium. Outgoing president Hans Clevers hand-selected speakers that represented the evolutionary and scientific spectrum of stem cell science – from plants to humans and basic research to the translational.

The conference halls and the exhibit hall were the focal points of the meeting which featured over 150 oral presentations, including the plenary and concurrent sessions and nearly 1400 posters. The Focus Session presentations and Innovation Showcases highlighted some of the latest technological and commercial developments. The 85+ exhibitors added to the wide variety of topic areas and new discoveries and provided ample opportunity for everyone to learn something new. In addition, the scientific programming included the Clinical Advances in Stem Cell Research, held at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the day before the annual meeting.

While the meeting covered stem cell science broadly, there were two major themes that emerged from the scientific presentations: emphasis on single cell analysis and advances in clinical translation. In particular, Fredrick Lanner’s presentation on single cell analysis of embryos and pluripotent stem cells, and translationally-focused presentations by Michele De Luca and Graziella Pellegrini, recipients of the ISSCR Award for Innovation, were among the presentations highlighting these trends.

Other ISSCR award winners represented at the meeting included Shuibing Chen, who received the ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator, and Connie Eaves, who delivered the Tobias Award Lecture. More than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows were awarded travel support from the ISSCR Zhongmei Chen Yong Travel Awards for Scientific Excellence and thirty-three trainees were named ISSCR Merit Award winners, recognizing superior abstracts. Three poster presenters received awards at the meeting for the quality of their abstract submission and poster presentation:  Yishai Avior from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tarja Yvanka de Soysa from the J. David Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, and Jeffrey Davis from the Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology Department at Harvard. Congratulations to all ISSCR award winners.

As always, the meeting was replete with opportunities to enhance and grow professional networks and careers. The Early Career Group Leader Luncheon, designed for junior investigators running a laboratory, explored the process of starting up a research group. For graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, the Meet the Experts Luncheon was an opportunity to have small group conversations with leaders in academics and industry, and the Junior Investigator Career Panel entitled, “Navigating Scientific Career Paths in Academia and Industry” offered a diverse panel of professionals including industry science, publishing, patent law, and science writing who reflected on their career path and job search experience. The job match, now in its second year, was also available for those looking to take that next step toward on their career path.

The meeting wrap-up would not be complete without acknowledging the key people and groups who helped make this meeting possible and contributed to its success. While there are many to thank, there are two groups that deserve special recognition:

  • The 2018 co-sponsor, the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research (AASCR), was instrumental in supporting the meeting and organizing an engaging, well-attended public forum, “Stem Cell Research – Now and in the Future” on the Monday before the meeting.
  • The ISSCR’s 2018 Planning Committee, led by Melissa Little and Hans Clevers, comprised of a dedicated group of volunteers who worked over the past two years to put together a fantastic scientific program and meeting.

Thank you to these groups and to everyone who helped make this meeting a success.

Looking ahead to 2019, the ISSCR Annual Meeting will be held in Los Angeles, CA on 26-29 June, where the bright lights of Hollywood will be focused on the “cellebrities” of stem cell science and technology. We hope to see you there!