The ISSCR Announces 2015 Recipients of the McEwen Award for Innovation, the ISSCR-BD Biosciences Outstanding Young Investigator, and the ISSCR Public Service Awards, 20 January, 2015

  • 20 January, 2015

Awards will be Presented at the ISSCR 2015 Annual Meeting, Taking Place June 24-27, 2015

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is excited to announce the society’s 2015 award recipients, who will be formally recognized at its annual meeting, taking place June 24-27, 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden.

  • McEwen Award for Innovation: Irving Weissman, M.D., Stanford School of Medicine, and Hans Clevers, M.D., Ph.D., Hubrecht Institute
  • ISSCR-BD Biosciences Outstanding Young Investigator Award: Paul Tesar, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • ISSCR Public Service Award: Alan Trounson, Ph.D., MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research

The McEwen Award for Innovation, supported by the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, recognizes original thinking and groundbreaking research pertaining to stem cells or regenerative medicine that opens new avenues of exploration toward the understanding or treatment of human disease or affliction. The winner receives $100,000 USD. Past winners include Azim Surani, James Thomson, Rudolf Jaenisch and Kazutoshi Takahashi with Shinya Yamanaka.

In 2015, the ISSCR recognizes long-standing contributors to the field, Weissman and Clevers, for the identification, prospective purification and characterization of somatic (adult) tissue-associated stem cells and advancement of their research findings toward clinical applications.

Award recipient Weissman’s many discoveries have helped map the direction of the stem cell field and have served as the basis for important research and work by scientists all over the world. He was the first to isolate and characterize hematopoietic (blood) stem cells from mice and humans. He developed the approaches and technologies, now widely used within the field, for isolating blood stem and progenitor cells and defining their properties. Weissman pioneered the extension of his approaches to isolation of other stem cell types, including human nervous system cells and skeletal muscle myogenic stem/progenitor cells. Further, he discovered several independent leukemia stem cells and, more recently, bladder cancer stem cells, head and neck cancer stem cells and malignant melanoma stem cells. Weissman has pursued these discoveries to develop several promising means of cancer therapy.

Award recipient Clevers has been a leader in biomedical sciences and the area of Wnt signaling in colon cancer for more than three decades. He and his lab developed tools to identify and track an adult stem cell population able to give rise to the entire lining of the gut and later to demonstrate that these cells can be isolated and grown in culture as “miniguts,” recapitulating the normal structure and function of the gut. These discoveries are a move toward promising therapies for colon conditions, like ulcers, in which the lining of the intestine has been destroyed in patches, and provide a powerful resource for modeling disease pathology and for drug screening.

“Irv Weissman and Hans Clevers have made enormous contributions to stem cell science. Working in the blood and gut systems, respectively, and extending their findings in different tissues, they have defined the concepts and technologies that underpin many avenues of research,” Hans Schöler, chair of the ISSCR’s McEwen Awards selection committee, said. “Each has made pioneering conceptual advances in disease modeling and regenerative medicine.”

The ISSCR-BD Biosciences Outstanding Young Investigator Award recognizes exceptional achievements by an ISSCR member and investigator in the early part of their independent career in stem cell research. The winner receives a $7,500 USD personal award and is invited to present at the ISSCR’s annual meeting. Past winners include Valentina Greco, Marius Wernig, Cédric Blanpain, Robert Blelloch, Joanna Wysocka and Konrad Hochedlinger.

Award recipient Tesar established his independent laboratory five years ago and has rapidly risen to his current position as the Dr. Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman Professor of Innovative Therapeutics and tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Tesar’s studies have shaped the global understanding of both pluripotent stem cell and oligodendrocyte biology. His seminal and highly cited report on epiblast stem cells, published in Nature in 2007, along with similar findings by Pedersen, Vallier and colleagues, led to a complete shift in the understanding of how pluripotency is regulated in the mammalian embryo. He has continued to provide high impact contributions to the field, pioneering new methods to generate and mature oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, and to use these to enhance repair in animal models of multiple sclerosis.

“The ISSCR is privileged to present our ISSCR-BD Biosciences Outstanding Young Investigator Award to Paul Tesar,” Rudolf Jaenisch, president of the ISSCR, said. “He has leveraged his understanding of mammalian development to create transformative stem cell-based technologies and to enable access to new areas of biology. His accomplishments advance our understanding of human health and would be impressive at any stage, but they are remarkable for someone so early in his career.”

The ISSCR Public Service Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions of public service to the fields of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. Winners are selected by the ISSCR board of directors. Past winners include joint recipients Paolo Bianco, Elena Cattaneo and Michele De Luca., Hiromitsu Ogawa and Betty Jean Crouch Ogawa, Rob and Cheryl McEwen and Robert Klein.

Award recipient Trounson was selected for his service as a visible and effective spokesperson for the field on an international level. Trounson is renowned for his pioneering work in in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other reproductive technologies, and was an early researcher and advocate for the use of human embryonic stem cells in medical research. As founder of the Australian Stem Cell Centre and president of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, he propelled the development of programs with strong public outreach components, encouraging dialogue between researchers and their communities. Trounson was a founding board member of the ISSCR and integral in bringing the ISSCR’s annual meeting to Cairns, Australia in 2007, the society’s first meeting outside of North America.

About the International Society for Stem Cell Research (

The International Society for Stem Cell Research is an independent, nonprofit membership organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application.