What is the current focus of your research, and what do you find most rewarding about your work?I am the Chief Scientific Officer at Orig3n and at Orig3n, we are a pioneer in regenerative medicine and creating the largest source of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for the understanding and treatment of a variety of diseases. What excites me is the impact this will have on the future of medicine. The access to large numbers of human cells from “normal” and disease patients allows scientists to understand differences between people and understand the molecular mechanisms of disease.
What led you to become a scientist and to stem cell research?I went into the world of therapeutics because I like science and medicine. Developing therapeutics relies on the solid foundation of science and applies this foundation to our understanding of disease. For the first part of my career, I had to use cell models by starting with cancer lines because they divided easily and could be manipulated. There was no easy access to human tissue that could be cultured in a dish. Who wants to donate a bit of their brain or heart for research? The fact that IPSCs can be differentiated to any tissue is powerful!
How do you spend your free time?
What is something your peers would be surprised to learn about you?I am a classically trained mandolin player, but I don’t have a chance to play much right now.
What do you value most about your membership with the ISSCR?
One of the best aspects of the ISSCR is the opportunity to listen to exciting stem cell science; this includes what’s going on now and the newest directions the field is going. The conference serves also as a way for scientists to get together for informal discussions. I hope to get more involved in the ISSCR organization and the running of future conferences.