Stem Cell Person of the Year 2015: Jeanne Loring

Jeanne LoringCongratulations to Dr. Jeanne Loring, the winner of the Stem Cell Person of the Year Award for 2015.

Facing steep competition from a very tough field of competitors of finalists, Jeanne came out as the winner for her exceptional contributions in 2015 and throughout her many years in the field. She not only has made numerous advances scientifically, but also gone the extra mile in many respects as an advocate and educator.

Her scientific contributions include outstanding research on human stem cells and in particular in stem cell epigenetics. See her publications on GoogleScholar.  She has been a great mentor to her trainees. You can visit her lab page here.

She has also been a creative leader in producing IPS cells from endangered species, an area with huge potential ecologically and at a societal level in terms of preventing extinctions.

Jeanne has mobilized patient advocates and catalyzed exciting work in the clinical pipeline in a number of areas including most prominently in the last few years for Parkinson’s Disease.

For instance, the patient organization Summit for Stem Cell that Jeanne works on is doing amazing things.

More broadly, Jeanne has often led the way on important, but difficult issues such as on the WARF patent challenge. In addition, she has been a fierce advocate for evidence-based medicine and has been unafraid to challenge predatory stem cell clinics. A video of Jeanne talking about stem cell tourism is pasted above.

Overall, Jeanne has had a transformative positive impact at least in part via taking risks and thinking outside the box, important criteria for the Stem Cell Person of the Year Award.

Jeanne has declined the $2,000 financial component of the Award. I’m currently considering whether to donate the funds to a charity or put them towards a novel educational outreach project in the stem cell field.

Stem cell good news briefs: TiGenix, Asterias, CIRM, Awards, & More

TiGenixThere’s a growing stream of stem cell good news of late.

Stem cell biotech, TiGenix, reported encouraging Phase 3 allogeneic results on stem cells. A big milestone. I can’t wait to see the actual data. Its product, Cx601, has so far been safe and effective for perianal fistulas in Crohn’s disease. See more from Alexey on this.

CIRM has funded the largest public stem cell bank in the world. Want to make a withdrawal?CIRM 2.0

Asterias reported some great news. It’s AST OPC-1 product showed some signs of encouraging efficacy in the first three patients treated. They are hoping to expand the trial.

Asterias BioTimeIn about two weeks on September 16th, the first winner of the new Ogawa-Yamanaka Stem Cell Prize will be announced at Gladstone Institutes. This should be a very exciting event honoring a top stem cell translational innovator in the area of cellular reprogramming, who will also received a cash prize of $150,000. According to the organizers, “The Prize was established through a generous gift from Hiro Ogawa to honor the memory of Betty Ogawa, who passed away in May 2014. It continues the philanthropic legacy she shared with her husband of 46 years.” The prize also recognizes Shinya Yamanaka too of course.

Any guesses on who will win? Let us know in the comments. Any kind of recognition of achievement and innovation in stem cells is wonderful.

On that note, I’m also starting to think about candidates for my own stem cell prize, the annual Stem Cell Person of the Year Award. It’s not to the same scale with a $2,000 prize, but I fund it out of my own pocket. The focus is different too. My award goes to the person who has had the single strongest, most innovative impact in the stem cell world for a given year and has taken risks either scientifically or in the area of advocacy. I’m looking for outside-the-box thinkers and doers.

Past winners have included super patient advocate Roman Reed, scientist and politician Elena Cattaneo (who went on to win the ISSCR Public Service Award), and this past year, pioneering stem cell translational scientist Masayo Takahashi. Dr. Takahashi might be a good bet to win the Ogawa-Yamanaka Prize this year.

Who should be nominated this year for the 2015 Stem Cell Person of the Year Award?

It’s not too soon to let me know your thoughts even though nominations don’t officially open quite yet. Last year we had more than two-dozen amazing nominees. The process includes an Internet vote to choose finalists and then I pick the winner from those, sometimes consulting privately with global stem cell scholars.