Nearly 4,000 scientists, physicians, and stem cell professionals from across the globe gathered at the ISSCR 2019 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA, a vibrant city with world-class stem cell research, to share their discoveries, enhance their careers, and inspire their science. The excitement for this meeting was palpable with a record number of speakers, including many early career investigators, some whom delivered plenary presentations, two Nobel Laureates, a number of new programs to foster networking and career advancement, and a scientific marketplace that showcased new technology and its application.
Science is always at the forefront of the Annual Meeting and there was an abundance of must-see presentations from the pre-meeting Workshop on Clinical Translation to the 207 plenary and concurrent talks, and 1,400 poster presentations, through the Focus Sessions and Innovation Showcases. The science in these sessions covered the breadth of stem cell science and its application. Among the most anticipated presentations were those of Drs. John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, co-recipients of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and two of the pioneers in reprogramming. Dr. Gurdon opened the meeting with a history of early reprogramming efforts and Dr. Yamanaka closed the meeting by highlighting some of the translational aspects of reprogramming. There were many other outstanding, intervening presentations including those of Drs. Felicia Pagliuca and Denis Duboule. Dr. Duboule presented research from his laboratory on gastruloids, an emerging area of modeling human embryonic development using embryonic stem cells. Dr. Pagliuca shared some of the results from her company’s encouraging pre-clinical data from large animal models showing progress in the quest to develop a stem cell-based therapy for diabetes.
Other outstanding scientists and contributors were recognized with several ISSCR awards. Dr. John Dick was the recipient of the ISSCR Award for Innovation and Dr. Barbara Treutlein received the Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator. The ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture was given to Dr. Scott Armstrong and longtime ISSCR member Dr. Lawrence Goldstein was honored for his years of science policy advocacy. The recognition included the announcement of the Lawrence Goldstein Science Policy Fellowship that will train ISSCR members to become stem cell policy advocates. Eighty trainees (graduate students and postdocs) received Merit Awards recognizing their superior abstracts and ISSCR poster awards were presented to Vincenzo Calvanese, Jan Zylicz, Siddharth Kishore, Annarita Scaramozza, and Kadi Lohmussaar. The philanthropic work of Eli and Edythe Broad, founders of The Broad Foundation, was also recognized with the Public Service Award. The Broad Foundation, through its philanthropic support, has contributed to numerous advances in stem cell research.
The networking and career-enhancing programs at the meeting get better every year and this year was no exception. In addition to the luncheons for students and early investigators, and a record number of jobseekers and employers registering for the Job Match, two new programs debuted. The Science Advocacy and Communications Seminar featured a panel of communication professionals and scientists to help give attendees the tools for creating successful research narratives to reach non-scientific audiences: policy makers, media, and the public. The other new program, a Women in Science Luncheon, presented a panel of esteemed women in science to discuss how women scientists communicate in fields still largely dominated by men, how they make their voices heard in exchanges with colleagues and the public, and what experiences have shaped their current thinking about gender roles and balance in science.
The meeting wrap-up would not be complete without acknowledging a few key people and groups who helped make this meeting possible and contributed to its success. First among them is our co-sponsor, USC Stem Cell. Additionally, the Annual Meeting Program Committee, a dedicated group of international scientists lead by chairman Marius Wernig and ISSCR President Doug Melton, 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!
We are already looking forward to the ISSCR Annual Meeting in 2020! Make your plans now to join us in Boston, MA on 24-27 June. We hope to see you there!