Hans Clevers Becomes President of the ISSCR

  • 13 June, 2017

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is pleased to announce Hans Clevers, Hubrecht Institute, the Netherlands, as the incoming president of the ISSCR and its board of directors. Clevers assumes the post immediately following the 15th ISSCR Annual Meeting in Boston, 14-17 June, 2017.

Clevers, a Professor of Molecular Genetics at Hubrecht Institute/University Medical Centre Utrecht and President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, will serve as ISSCR president for one year, succeeding Sally Temple. The role of president-elect will be filled by Douglas Melton, Xander University Professor at Harvard and an HHMI Investigator, who will become president at the end of the 2018 annual meeting in Melbourne, Australia.

“This is an important time for stem cell research, with advances now moving toward clinical trial in several disease areas,” Clevers said. “Recent discoveries in gene therapy, genomics, and cancer biology are breaking new ground, and will have a real impact in the development of regenerative medicine,” he said. “As the field moves forward, it is crucial that we rely on the Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation, developed by the ISSCR last year, to prioritize patient welfare and ensure research integrity and transparency,” Clevers said. “I look forward to leading the ISSCR as we uphold these standards and continue the important work of advancing human health,” he said.

Clevers discovered that a signaling pathway that was known to be crucial in developing animals is also a central regulator of stem cells in a wide variety of organs in the adult mouse and human body. This so-called Wnt pathway allows stem cells to replace cells that are lost due to wear-and-tear of tissues (such as the inner lining of the gut). Not surprisingly, the Wnt pathway is often aberrantly activated in cancer, driving the uncontrolled growth of tumors, such as colon cancer. Based on these combined insights, Clevers developed technologies to grow ever-expanding mini-versions of human organs ‘in a dish.’

Melton is a member of Harvard University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and a Co-Director of Harvard's Stem Cell Institute. Melton teaches several undergraduate courses and with his wife, Gail O’Keefe, serves as a Co-Master of Eliot House in Harvard College. Research in the Melton laboratory focuses on finding a significant new treatment for Type 1 diabetes.  His laboratory analyzes the normal development of the pancreas, and the autoimmune attack that leads to Type1 diabetes, in order to understand how pancreatic beta cells are made and how they become the target of autoimmunity. The main focus of Melton’s lab is to use human stem cells to make pancreatic islet cells for transplantation into diabetics.

Deepak S. Srivastava, director of the Roddenberry Stem Cell Center at Gladstone and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, has been elected Vice President, and will become president in 2019.

New members of the ISSCR board of directors include: Ruth Lehman, Melissa Little, Charles Murry, Konrad Hochedlinger, and Roger Barker. Those ending their terms are: Nissim Benvenisty, Kathrin Plath, Timothy Allsopp, Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, and Hideyuki Okano.

About the International Society for Stem Cell Research (www.isscr.org)
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.

Additional information about stem cell science is available at A Closer Look at Stem Cells, an initiative of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) that helps the public learn about stem cell research and its potential to impact human health.