Strengthening the Field for the Future

  • 18 January, 2021
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Message from the President, Christine Mummery

During VISION2030: A Forecast for the Field earlier this month, leading biotechnology companies shared distinct and powerful visions for the decade ahead – perspectives that will no doubt encourage and inspire hundreds of our colleagues around the world.

While each panel revealed unique paths from research to clinical translation, one theme remained the same: the need for talent. We heard often that finding well-trained scientists to work in industry and to bring knowledge and creativity to the challenges of commercializing stem cell-based therapies is crucial as the science advances. Chief among the challenges discussed was scale manufacturing. For members of our community, this means opportunity awaits.

We know that our field and the scientific research we pursue is stronger when we are inclusive of diverse viewpoints. The ISSCR is committed to creating resources that cultivate access and opportunity to excel in all areas of the field. This commitment includes ensuring women and underrepresented minorities in science have the opportunity to learn, train, and advance in our growing field.

Consequently, it was so important to me and the members of the ISSCR Board of Directors to publish a strong commentary in Stem Cell Reports related to the 17 November, 2020 Nature Communications paper on the role of informal mentorship on the future career of mentees, which concluded, “female protégés who remain in academia reap more benefits when mentored by males rather than equally-impactful females.” 

The ISSCR has a longstanding interest with encouraging women in STEM through special programs at our annual meeting and a series of interviews with female scientists in our field. We are building on this programming at ISSCR 2021 Virtual where we will address the experiences and needs of women and underrepresented minorities in science, barriers to success, and ideas to ensure we cultivate opportunities for advancement. As leaders in our scientific society, the ISSCR Board felt compelled to strongly address the need to eliminate inequities that young scientists face throughout their careers and recognizes the value of the unique career paths of a diverse talent pool. We also point out that institutional culture that supports and rewards inclusive excellence in mentoring practices and career advancement should be the core focus of institutional policies. The ISSCR is committed to continually address these challenges in the fields of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. As the commentary concludes, “We need to stop blaming the victim and do all we can to make significant changes for gender equality.”