2022 Election Results
Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 election
New officers will begin their terms following the ISSCR Annual Meeting, 15-18 June 2022.
The ISSCR Board of Directors consists of 22 members, and includes the president, president elect, vice president, past president, clerk, and treasurer. Nominations for the Board of Directors were made by ISSCR members in September 2021. Candidates were slated by the Nominating Committee with an emphasis on scientific authority and to maintain the overall international diversity of the board.
In the 2022 election, members were invited to vote for:
- Vice President
- Two new members of the ISSCR Board of Directors
- Re-appointment of two Board members
Valentina Greco, PhD
Valentina Greco, PhD
Greco lab members aim to define how tissues maintain themselves throughout the course of our lives in the face of continuous cellular turnover, frequent injuries, and spontaneous mutations. To do so we have developed novel tools that integrate imaging of stem cells in their niche in live mice with both genetic and cell biological approaches, allowing us to understand the complex orchestration of tissue regeneration using the skin as model system. This novel live imaging approach has repeatedly led to a significant number of breakthroughs, including but not limited to 1) stem cell position dictates fate in the hair follicle, 2) a stem cell-mediated phagocytic clearance mechanism regulates the size of the hair follicle stem cell pool and 3) the unanticipated plasticity of the skin epithelium to correct aberrant tissue growths induced by mutational and non-mutational insults.
Dr. Greco has served in numerous leadership roles in the scientific community including within the ISSCR as Chair of the Junior Investigator Committee (2014-2017), member of the Strategic Oversight Committee (2020-present), Annual Meeting Program Committee Member (2019 and 2022), Nominating Committee (2016-2018) and Board Member (2016-2022). She also serves on numerous additional boards including President Elect for the Society of Investigative Dermatology (SID), SID Board member (2016-2020), Member of the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Advisory Council (NAMSAC 2022-), Member of the Yale Ciencia Academy Advisory Committee, Member of the 2030STEM Leadership Team and Secretary of Board of Directors of the Life Science Editors Foundation.
Greco Lab research has been recognized by numerous accolades awarded to both lab members and Dr Greco. She in particular has received the 2014 Women in Cell Biology Junior Award (WICB) for Excellence in Research from the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB), the 2014 ISSCR (International Society for Stem Cell Research) Outstanding Young Investigator Award, the 2015 Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Award from the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), the 2015 Mallinckrodt Scholar Award, the 2016 Early Career Award from the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB), the 2016 HHMI Faculty Scholar Award, the 2017 Glenn Foundation Award, the 2017 Class of ‘61 Award by the Yale Cancer Center, the 2018 Yale Mentoring Award in the Natural Sciences, the 2019 Yale Genetic Department Mentoring Award, the 2019 Yale Post-doc Mentoring Award, the 2019 NIH DP1 Pioneer Award and the 2021 ISSCR Momentum Award.
Clive Svendsen, PhD
Clive Svendsen, PhD
Dr. Svendsen has long-been interested in growth factors and protection of neurological function. Early in his career he worked with neurosurgeons and neurologists to coordinate the first-ever clinical trial infusing the growth factor, GDNF, directly into the putamen of patients with Parkinson’s Disease. In parallel he discovered a new way to propagate and maintain fetal neural stem/ progenitor cells, which allowed long-term growth and cGMP manufacturing. These cells retained the potential to make astrocytes, could be modified to release GDNF and are being used in two CIRM-funded Phase I/IIa clinical trials to treat ALS. He is the Sponsor on these trials, as well as a separate CIRM-funded Phase I/IIa clinical trial using neural stem/ progenitor cells to treat Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease leading to blindness. Another major focus of his work is to use human induced pluripotent stem cells to model and treat various human diseases. His lab was one of the first to develop an iPSC-based model of neurodegenerative disease, specifically spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). He has subsequently helped initiate several consortiums to model Huntington’s Disease and ALS. Answer ALS, one of the largest disease modeling consortiums, is making 1000 patient iPSC lines, differentiating them into motor neurons and performing large scale -omics to discover patient subtypes. In addition, Dr. Svendsen’s lab uses microfluidic “organ-on-chip” technology to recreate human multicellular systems for research and drug development, which was highlighted on the front cover of National Geographic.
Dr. Svendsen has received many awards including the Shelia Essay Award for ALS research from the American Academy of Neurology, the Commitment to a Cure Award from The ALS Association, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Trailblazer Award, and an Allen Distinguished Investigator Award. He is on many scientific boards and advisory committees, including the NIH NEI Audacious Goals Initiative Steering Committee. His passion for stem cell education is exemplified by years of organizing and chairing multiple large stem cell meetings co-sponsored by Cell Symposia, CIRM and The ALS Association as well as his work in stem cell outreach to high school students. Finally he has deep financial experience through setting up a company in the UK and coordinating large complex budgets for consortium grants.
New Members of the Board of Directors
Helen Blau, PhD
Helen Blau, PhD
Dr. Blau is a co-inventor on 20 patents. Her laboratory’s innovation has garnered an NIH MERIT Award, an NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, an NIH EUREKA Grant for Exceptionally Innovative Research, and numerous California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awards. Blau has served in numerous leadership roles including as a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers and SAB of the Ellison Medical Foundation. She enjoys educating students and postdoctoral fellows, sharing her enthusiasm for research, and training them to be outstanding scientists.
A hallmark of Blau’s research is the use of multi-disciplinary approaches to regenerative medicine for acquired and inherited diseases. She is renowned for her nuclear reprogramming experiments which demonstrated the plasticity of cell fate by cell fusion. Blau’s laboratory focuses primarily on muscle stem cells (MuSCs), a potent specialized population that resides within adult skeletal muscle tissues, poised to repair muscle damage throughout life. Blau’s group forged methods to prospectively isolate MuSCs using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), employed high-resolution lineage mapping by single-cell mass cytometry (CyTOF) to resolve a functional MuSC subset, and monitored the dynamics of stem cell expansion during regeneration by bioluminescence imaging (BLI). Her lab overcame the loss of stem-cell function seen on plastic culture dishes by mimicking healthy young muscle tissue elasticity using bioengineered hydrogel niches. To surmount the marked reduction in viable stem cells upon MuSC transplantation, Blau’s lab employed self-assembling peptide amphiphiles to generate biomimetic cell-encapsulating scaffolds that protect and align cells during delivery, coupling bioengineering with stem cell biology to establish new principles.
Recently Blau’s lab discovered that aged muscle tissues can be rejuvenated by targeting a single enzyme, 15-PGDH, the Prostaglandin E2 degrading enzyme, a pivotal determinant of muscle aging. Remarkably, 15-PGDH overexpression triggers atrophy in young muscles, whereas its inhibition rejuvenates and strengthens aged muscles. The potency of PGE2, which accumulates following enzyme inhibition, arises from its dual targets: muscle stem cells and mature myofibers. These findings hold promise for translation to the clinic to augment strength in patients with muscular dystrophies and sarcopenia, the debilitating loss of muscle function with aging for which there currently is no treatment.
Within the ISSCR, Dr. Blau served on the Education Committee (2003-2006), the 2019 Annual Meeting Program Committee, and is currently serving on the 2023 Annual Meeting Program Committee and the Stem Cell Reports Editorial Board (2013-2022).
Kathy Niakan, PhD
Kathy Niakan, PhD
Dr. Niakan's experience as a refugee informs her approach and commitment to diversity and inclusion, which she aims to support and represent in any role. Her family fled Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and eventually emigrated to the USA. This experience allows her to bring insights into the language, cultural, social and economic barriers that other immigrants or underrepresented minorities may face.
Her laboratory pioneered approaches to investigate the function of genes that regulate early human development and the molecular mechanisms that direct cell fate in human embryos. Her laboratory obtained the first nationally regulated approval to genetically modify human embryos in research which attracted widespread policy interest. This research licence was acquired as part of the permanent collection at the Science Museum in London, where scientific objects from her laboratory have also been exhibited. Additionally, through a long-standing collaboration with Professor Mary Herbert at the University of Newcastle, Dr. Niakan's laboratory provided extensive pre-clinical data that led to the development of novel techniques for using mitochondrial replacement therapy to treat disease, and this collaborative work influenced the decision of the UK Parliament to approve the clinical use of these methods. The developmental processes studied by her laboratory are crucial to our understanding of human biology. Dr. Niakan's laboratory seeks to improve the clinical treatment of infertility and developmental disorders, and their advocacy informs the ethical use of stem cells in research and medicine.
Dr. Niakan has provided evidence and advice in genome editing to members of the UK Parliament House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, European Commission, WHO and an International Commission on the clinical use of germline genome editing, among numerous other international government agencies and policy teams. She was a member of the Task Force Committee to update the ISSCR Guidelines in 2021. She is a 2019 Blavatnik Award UK Finalist in Life Sciences.
Dr. Niakan obtained a B.Sc. in Cell and Molecular Biology and a B.A. in English Literature from University of Washington, supported by a Mary Gates Research Scholarship. She obtained her PhD at University of California, Los Angeles, supported by a National Institutes of Health Pre-doctoral Training Grant, Paul D. Boyer Fellowship and a Chancellor’s Dissertation Year Fellowship. She undertook postdoctoral training at Harvard University. She was also a Centre for Trophoblast Research Next Generation Research Fellow at University of Cambridge.
Re-appointed Board Members
Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD
Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD
Dr. Kriegstein was director of one of the largest and most comprehensive stem cell programs in the US for over 17 years. The Center encompasses over 70 laboratories focused on disorders ranging from heart disease and diabetes to cancer and diseases of the nervous system. Dr. Kriegstein’s own research focuses on the stem cell niche and ways neural stem and progenitor cells produce neurons in the developing brain. He found that radial glial cells, long thought to simply guide nerve cells during migration, are neuronal stem cells in the developing brain. More recently, Dr. Kriegstein discovered a radial glia-type cell, the oRG cell, within the developing human brain that produces transit amplifying daughter cells. These cells, not present in small brain mammals, help explain the enormous developmental and evolutionary expansion of the human cerebral cortex. Together with colleagues at UCSF, he also developed methods to derive human inhibitory cortical interneurons from pluripotent stem cells, a finding that led to the founding of Neurona Therapeutics, an early-stage biotechnology company. Neurona has just received IND clearance to initiate a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of neural cell therapy for medically intractable temporal lobe epilepsy.
Among other honors, Dr. Kriegstein was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and was twice awarded a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the NINDS and is a current recipient of the Outstanding Investigator Award. He was selected Senior Visiting Professor by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Astor Visiting Professor, University of Oxford. He serves on the NINDS Council and has served as member and then Chair of the ISSCR Publications Committee and was elected ISSCR Treasurer in 2016, serving in that capacity through June 2019.
Kenneth S. Zaret, PhD
Kenneth S. Zaret, PhD
Dr. Zaret's laboratory discovered a bipotential precursor population for liver and pancreas progenitors in the embryonic endoderm. They showed that inductive signals from two distinct mesodermal cell types coordinately control the liver vs. pancreas fate decision. His group found that the tissue inductive signals connect to chromatin features in endoderm cells that constitute a “pre-pattern” to enable tissue induction. They also discovered that the liver emanates from two distinct domains in the foregut endoderm, induced by signaling in different ways. They discovered that endothelial cells signal to the liver and pancreas progenitors to promote morphogenesis, independent of blood flow; as subsequently seen in diverse contexts. Dr. Zaret's group discovered and named “pioneer transcription factors” that bind to silent chromatin, endowing the competence for cell differentiation and promoting cellular reprogramming. They found that silent chromatin binding is imparted by the inherent ability of pioneer factors to recognize their target motif, or a partial motif, on the surface of a nucleosome. Pioneer factors provide a mechanistic explanation for the ability of certain transcription factors, but not others, to initiate cell fate decisions in development and reprogramming. Recently, his lab discovered that H3K9me3-heterochromatin domains are dynamic in embryonic development and are the most restrictive chromatin feature for repressing gene activity during cell fate changes. The lab's proteomic and genetic functional screens of heterochromatin proteins revealed diverse new ways to modulate cell fate decisions. His laboratory's findings on the mechanisms of gene, cell, and tissue induction have provided numerous insights for generating liver and pancreas cells from stem cells as disease models and future therapies.
Within the ISSCR, Dr. Zaret has given talks at plenary sessions over the years, he has served on the Program Committee for the 2019 ISSCR annual meeting, and he has served as Treasurer of the ISSCR since 2019.