Sadness Over the Tragic Loss of Dr. Yoshiki Sasai

  • 5 August, 2014

The ISSCR joins the stem cell research community in mourning the loss of Dr. Yoshiki Sasai, an internationally recognized Japanese scientist.

Dr. Sasai was an expert in coaxing embryonic stem cells to become mini-organs, and in a remarkable contribution, his research group showed that the retina could self-organize from stem cells in a dish, a breakthrough with tremendous promise for treating blindness. The anatomic similarities between the optic cup in the dish and the actual developing eye indicated a surprising degree of self-organizing potential intrinsic to these stem cells.

Dr. Sasai extended these findings to show self-organization of other structures within the central nervous system, such as the pituitary and neocortex, and his work launched many scientists on a quest to develop organoids or mini-organs, which has provided some of the most compelling recent advances in the stem cell field.

Dr. Sasai was positioned to make additional and momentous contributions to the field of stem cell research, and his death is a tragic loss. We extend our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.