This summer, the ancient sea-side city of Barcelona, Spain welcomed more than 3000 members of the International Society for Stem Cell Research to attend the society’s 7th annual meeting. The four day program consisted of seven plenary sessions and three concurrent tracks, each covering topics ranging from embryonic stem cells, stem cells in model organisms, differentiation of stem cells, stem cells and cancer, epigenetics, and reprogramming, to the ethics of egg sharing. A record number of posters (more than 1700) were presented. It was also the largest ISSCR meeting to date, attracting scientists from both academia and industry.
HSCI faculty, including Doug Melton, PhD, Leonard Zon, MD, George Daley, MD, PhD, Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD, and Richard Gregory, PhD, presented their work during the plenary sessions. Stuart Orkin, MD, Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD, David Langenau, PhD, Wolfram Goessling, MD, PhD, Trista North, PhD, and postdocs and graduate students from the laboratories of Lee Rubin, PhD, and Amy Wagers, PhD, gave presentations at the concurrent afternoon sessions. And many more members of HSCI participated in the scientific poster sessions. The exact number of HSCI attendees is difficult to estimate but many were happy to run into their colleagues in the streets of Barcelona whom they had not seen for a while back in Cambridge or Boston.
One highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the first annual ISSCR Outstanding Young Investigator award, which honored HSCI Principal Faculty member, Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD. The award, which recognizes the exceptional achievements of an investigator in the early part of his or her independent career in stem cell research, included a $7,500 personal award and complimentary registration to the ISSCR Annual Meeting.
Hochedlinger started his own lab at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2006, where he has made major contributions to the reprogramming field, building upon the original observations of Shinya Yamanaka to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) using four genetic factors. Most recently, his lab showed that the p53 tumor suppressor pathway plays an important role in increasing the efficiency of reprogramming. During the meeting, Hochedlinger presented this work at a plenary session to a full room.
At the end of the four-day meeting, Irving Weissman, MD, Stanford University, the new president-elect of ISSCR, thanked the founders of ISSCR, especially HSCI Executive Committee chair, Leonard Zon, MD, for his energy and vision that started the organization and welcomed everyone to the 8th annual meeting that will be held next year in San Francisco.