The International Society for Stem Cell Research Announces the 2016 Recipients of the McEwen Award for Innovation, the ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Outstanding Young Investigator Award and the inaugural ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture

  • 10 February, 2016

Awards will be presented at the ISSCR 2016 Annual Meeting, taking place 22-25 June, 2016

CHICAGO — The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is excited to announce the society’s 2016 award recipients, who will be formally recognized at its annual meeting, taking place 22-25 June, 2016 in San Francisco, California, U.S.:

  • McEwen Award for Innovation: jointly, Austin Smith, PhD, FRS, FRSE, Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research and Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Qi-Long Ying, PhD, University of Southern California
  • ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Outstanding Young Investigator Award: Fernando Camargo, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital
  • ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture: Leonard Zon, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital

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 Irving Weissman and Hans Clevers, Azim Surani, James Thomson, Rudolf Jaenisch, and Kazutoshi Takahashi and Shinya Yamanaka.

Award recipient Smith has shaped our understanding of embryo stem cell biology for more than 25 years, and the discoveries of he and co-winner Ying have had important conceptual and practical impact on stem cell biology. Smith’s research has largely focused on embryonic stem (ES) cells and their relationship to the unspecialized cells resident in the mammalian embryo that go on to seed the many tissues and organs of the body. In 2003, he and Ying showed that mouse ES cells can be sustained in culture by a specific combination of growth factors, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). They proposed that these cytokines act by inhibiting their differentiation to specialized cells and in a landmark 2008 paper, confirmed this hypothesis by using small molecules to mimic this effect. This research revealed a “ground state” of pluripotency. These findings enabled new ES cell lines to be developed from refractory mouse strains and paved the way for the extension of ES cell-directed genetic engineering into the rat, an important tool for exploring human disease.

Sean Morrison, ISSCR President describes award recipients Smith and Ying as having “made enormous contributions to our fundamental understanding of pluripotency and how this knowledge can be leveraged to develop new tools that advance our understanding and treatment of human disease.”

The ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim 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 $15,000 USD personal award and an opportunity to present at the ISSCR Annual Meeting. Past winners include Paul Tesar, Valentina Greco, Marius Wernig, Cédric Blanpain, Robert Blelloch, Joanna Wysocka and Konrad Hochedlinger.

Award recipient Camargo’s innovative research on adult stem cells, regulation of organ size, and cancer, together with the development of a paradigm-shifting stem cell tracking technique, has greatly impacted our understanding of stem cell biology and disease, and opens new avenues in regenerative medicine. His research on the Hippo signaling pathway in stem cells has provided a new understanding of the connection between the regulation of stem cells, organ growth and tumorigenesis, with implications for treating cancer and regenerative disorders. Camargo’s development of a novel method of tracking and monitoring individual blood stem cells and their offspring in their natural environment, opens multiple lines of scientific enquiry previously not possible, and has the potential to change our understanding of the blood system and beyond.

“The ISSCR is delighted to present our Outstanding Young Investigator Award to Fernando Camargo,” said ISSCR CEO Nancy Witty. “Dr. Camargo is an innovative young scientist and we look forward watching as his research transforms our knowledge of stem cell biology, disease and regeneration and to involving him in ISSCR leadership activities."

This year marks the inaugural ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture. Supported by the Tobias Foundation, the award recognizes original and promising basic hematology research field as well as direct translational or clinical research related to cell therapy in hematological disorders. The winner receives a $15,000 personal award and presents the Tobias Lecture at the ISSCR Annual Meeting.

Inaugural award winner Zon has demonstrated long-standing scientific leadership in the fields of hematology, stem cell biology, and zebrafish biology. Zon has pioneered the use of zebrafish for the study of human blood formation, to identify the underpinnings of blood disorders such as leukemia, and find factors that influence blood stem cell transplantation. To probe blood stem cell biology in the zebrafish, he developed many of the techniques that are widely used today, including transplantation assays and genetic approaches, providing the basis of influential discoveries in the field by himself and others. His research has also reached into the clinic, with the discovery and development of two novel therapeutics that are now being evaluated in clinical trials for patients with leukemia and melanoma.

"Dr Zon’s research epitomizes the bench-to-bedside impact that we strive for. His research using zebrafish demonstrates the power of model organisms to understand fundamental aspects of hematopoiesis and the ability to translate those discoveries into new therapies,” said Morrison.

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.


Heather Rooke, PhD, Scientific Director
International Society for Stem Cell Research

Award-winner biographies and photos are available upon request, as are interviews with ISSCR President Sean Morrison.