ISSCR 2018: Stem Cells Down Under

  • 9 January, 2018

Stem cell research has led to profound insights into how developmental processes work in plants, animals, and humans. Increasingly, our work has shed light on how different life forms begin, develop, mature, and respond to injury and age. Myriad advances continue to contribute to understanding biology, cell function, disease and its treatment, senescence, and end of life.

I want to highlight the remarkably broad impact of stem cell research in the opening Presidential Plenary session at this year’s annual meeting, 20-23 June in Melbourne, Australia. On 20 June, Ben Scheres will talk about his research to understand how stem cells build plants, using gene and protein networks to form patterns during development. Elly Tanaka’s talk will address her work with salamanders, and how stem cells repair and regenerate limbs and nerves in these vertebrates. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte will focus on using stem cells to create organs outside the human body that can be used for transplant. Graziella Pellegrini will talk about her research on how stem cells may cure human blindness and devastating skin disease.

ISSCR 2018 Scientific HighlightsYoung scientist presents her research at ISSCR 2017
I’m pleased that the ISSCR will host the 2018 annual meeting in Melbourne, underscoring the terrific science coming out of this region of the world. Abstract submission is open until 31 January, and early registration is now available at reduced rates.

The annual meeting remains the highlight of the year: an unparalleled opportunity to share science, learn about new methods and technologies, and develop and grow networks of colleagues and peers around the world. The meeting spans the breadth of the stem cell field, from basic to translational science, with a robust scientific program that includes new perspectives and insights in all areas of research.

A pre-meeting session, Clinical Advances in Stem Cell Research, will be held 19 June. Entitled “Emerging Technologies and Cellular Therapies,” the panel discussion will explore current cellular therapies and those moving toward the clinic, and will be held at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne. Presentations are geared toward scientists and physicians interested in learning more about the process of developing stem cell-based therapies.

I was pleased to work with the 2018 Program Committee, under the direction of Melissa Little, to develop an outstanding scientific program. Plenary sessions scheduled each day of the meeting focus on: recapitulating development from stem cells, systems biology of heterogeneity, new technologies in stem cell engineering, stem cell-based disease modeling, cancer stem cells, and gene and stem cell therapies moving to the clinic.

Several of the plenaries also feature short lectures honoring the legacies of some of our influential colleagues: Patrick P.L. Tam will deliver the Anne McLaren Memorial Lecture; Douglas Melton, the Ernest McCulloch Lecture; and Katherine High, the John McNeish Memorial Lecture.

Concurrent Sessions each day feature new and innovative developments, and incorporate more than 100 abstract-selected speakers. Disease modelling, tissue engineering, stem cell niches, epigenetics, hematopoietic stem cells, neural development, and gene editing are just a few of the 20 topic areas to be presented.

MeetUpHub2017Networking and Career Development Highlights
Key to the meeting are the many opportunities to meet with colleagues, learn about new research, develop collaborations, and discover ways to grow your career. Among the most popular events are the Early Career Group Leader Lunch and Junior Investigator Social Night, both 20  June, and the Meet-the-Experts Luncheons 21, 22 June. A career panel luncheon (23 June) is an opportunity to meet with experts for an in-depth discussion. If you want to meet with other attendees in your area of interest, contact the ISSCR to schedule a Meet-up Hub during the meeting.

We’re hosting a Job Match program again in Melbourne, after a successful launch last year. Be sure to sign up when you register for the meeting; you can upload your CV and begin looking at jobs in May. Employers and prospective candidates can chat virtually and then schedule time to meet on-site.

Focus Sessions the morning of 20 June are organized by a variety of stakeholders, and provide insights on specific topics of scientific interest. In addition, 14 Innovation Showcases on 21 and 22 June will highlight products, tools, and technologies that can enhance your research.

A vibrant exhibit hall at ISSCR 2017

You won’t want to miss the exhibit hall, which always features the most up-to-date research tools and technologies. The hall is open throughout the meeting, giving you a lot of time to catch up with the latest company representatives and service providers and learn about products for your lab. This is always a good time to connect with colleagues and check out new science at the poster receptions. We expect more than 100 companies in the Exhibit Hall at ISSCR 2018.

See you in Melbourne
Visit the ISSCR 2018 homepage for the complete list of programming, and you’ll also find video interviews about what to expect in Melbourne.

Finally, I look forward to our work together in 2018 to advance stem cell science and its translation to the clinic. Together with all of our members world-wide, we will continue to grow our outreach, advocacy, and communications on behalf of the field. We welcome your feedback at

Looking forward to seeing you in Melbourne!

Hans Clevers
ISSCR President