The 2008 HSCI Stem Cell Summit

At the third annual HSCI Stem Cell Summit on September 22nd, Harvard President Drew Faust hailed recent work by HSCI scientists as significant steps in the effort to understand and, ultimately, treat diseases that afflict millions around the world. Among the advances she cited were a treatment for a form of muscular dystrophy in mice, the production of stem cell lines from patients suffering from various diseases, the creation of nerve cells from patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the direct reprogramming of mouse pancreatic cells into the insulin-producing beta cells destroyed in diabetes.

“If discoveries like these were emerging at a rate of one a year, we would have good cause to celebrate. It is a tribute to the work of the institute that all four of the papers I just mentioned were published this last summer alone,” Faust said. “Everything I know about your work and the work of this Institute makes me feel that we really do live in historic times – something people will look back on years from now and see as a watershed in our understanding of human biology and in our capacity to seek treatments and cures for a myriad of diseases.”

During the summit’s daylong event, which focused on “Moving Stem Cell Research from Bench to Bedside,” speakers detailed advancements made in specific disease areas – including diabetes, cancer, nervous system diseases, and heart disease – as well as the progress made in cellular reprogramming, clinical trials, and drug discovery technology. The program also included panel discussions with hospital CEOs, state representatives, and industry experts, and concluded with a scientific poster session.