ISSCR Journal Focuses on Women in Stem Cell Science; Reflections by CEO Nancy Witty

  • 10 September, 2018

In September and October, Stem Cell Reports is spotlighting the diverse experiences of leading women in the stem cell field through text and video interviews. These prominent scientists share their thoughts, challenges, and triumphs as women in science, and reflect on the role the ISSCR has played as their careers developed.

ISSCR CEO Nancy Witty reflects on the female leaders in the early years of the society and how they set the stage for those to follow:

We’ve always had strong female leaders in the ISSCR, and it was recognized early on that it was important to have women represented at all levels of society leadership. In 2008, Fiona Watt was elected president, followed by Elaine Fuchs two years later, and both were avid advocates for women in leadership positions and at the podium. Their tenures set the tone of the conversation, and we continue to work toward gender and geographic diversity in our speaking programs and throughout the different areas of responsibility within the society today. *

Leadership qualities of those who serve on the board and in committees all start with scientific excellence, but they encompass more than that. Leaders tend to have strong communication skills, confidence, an ability to think strategically, and the capacity to drive forward a community of interests. Importantly, the best leaders also exhibit a generosity of spirit that helps bring others along. I think you’ll see these qualities reflected in this series. At the ISSCR, we aspire to cultivate all these skills.

As you learn more about our current and past leaders through this series, and if you are a young scientist, especially a young female scientist, I encourage you to reach out to them after their talks at a meeting or when you read a paper published in your area of interest. It’s through this sort of involvement that a community is built, and how we cultivate the next generation of leaders in stem cell research.

Though this Stem Cell Reports series, I hope you will see, as I do, that the ISSCR community is truly a gift.                                                 Nancy Witty, CEO, ISSCR

*Learn more about the founding of the ISSCR in this video interview with Leonard Zon, who founded the ISSCR and served as president from 2002-2006; former presidents are listed on