HSCI has been breaking down barriers to collaboration in stem cell science for the past 15 years. We have been instrumental in changing the traditional model of research, which kept a wall between exploratory research and commercial development. Now, we bring communities together across sectors to work on shared problems and advance the frontiers of medicine. As an example, when you consider how far we have come towards cell replacement therapies for diabetes patients, you can appreciate how wildly successful that approach has been.
I am proud of the effect this change has had on younger faculty, who come to us from all over the world to share their ideas and make meaningful contributions to science and medicine. They join HSCI to be part of something much more meaningful than generating papers and advancing careers: together, we have been creating and applying new knowledge in ways that will change the lives of patients and their families for the better.
The rapid advances in stem cell medicine since 2004 have been thanks not only to breakthrough technologies, but to a culture that combines cross-disciplinary collaboration and visionary philanthropy. With Harvard as a wellspring of discovery and a strong network that embraces new ways of working, we are better equipped than ever to change human health in ways that will benefit all of society.
When HSCI launched in 2004 it was not easy to engage with other scientists across institutions at Harvard. Basic research was so far removed from hospital- and industry-based research that we didn’t have a clear path to translating discoveries into products that benefit patients.
HSCI has turned that around. We now have the flexibility to organize people across institutions and sectors to tackle specific biological problems, and that has changed the way Harvard thinks about scientific collaboration. HSCI discoveries made in academic labs can now move much more easily into nimble companies that can bring new knowledge and potential therapies to doctors and patients. And that is what matters.
Over the next 15 years, if we are successful we will discover how stem cells can be used not only to repair injury, but to prevent age-related disease effectively. As a physician, I could not be prouder of what we have achieved, or more excited about what’s to come.
Stem cell science has far exceeded expectations, with cell replacement therapies now in the clinic, in vivo gene editing a reality, and miniature organs transforming neuroscience research. Armed with new technologies, data, and knowledge that would have seemed like science fiction 15 years ago, HSCI scientists are poised to achieve breakthroughs in regenerative therapies that address age-related disease and injury.
As the largest collaborative network of stem cell scientists in the world, we have truly made the most of Harvard’s outstanding research talent. The university’s open, interdisciplinary culture fosters curiosity, while its teaching hospitals provide a perfect environment for early-stage clinical trials. Beyond Harvard, we have been working with companies like Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, and GSK to lay essential groundwork for the future development of new therapies, and to understand pathologies that underlie human disease.
Over the past 15 years our members, funders, and partners have done much to be proud of. Together, we are helping to usher in a new era of research into both specific diseases and broad areas like immunology, aging, and fibrosis, which touch on all diseases. This support continues to empower our scientists and physicians to move research out of the lab and into the clinic, where it can make a difference in people’s lives.