Scientific and medical breakthroughs do not follow straight lines or predictable paths. Rather, they emerge from exciting collisions of collaboration and insight from researchers, clinicians, and entrepreneurs across disciplines and expertise.
That insight has been the foundation of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) for over 13 years. We were inspired to create a truly unique and powerful innovative engine to empower more than 1,000 researchers, clinical specialists, bioengineers, and other experts affiliated with Harvard University and its world-class hospitals, as well as with the biotechnology companies in Boston and Cambridge, to change the future of medicine together.
As a result, today HSCI has an exponential impact on regenerative medicine. In the following pages, we share how our scientists are discovering transformative treatments and bringing them to the clinic, developing new research approaches to advance scientific discovery across disease areas, and training the next generation of pioneers in the field.
Highlights from 2017 include:
Through the Boston Autologous Islet Replacement Therapy program, we have made exciting advances in the past year to develop a treatment for diabetes. Since Doug Melton’s initial innovation of converting patient stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, we have been collaborating with area hospitals to further develop the technology. In the last quarter of 2017, Semma Therapeutics—our partner in the biotechnology industry—raised $114 million in their series B round of funding.
As early pioneers of in vitro cell models, HSCI researchers have brought that work to the next level in the past year with advances in three-dimensional organoids. These are human cell cultures that model the complexity of tissues and organs. We have developed multiple types—brain, lung, kidney, and intestine, among others—in order to investigate basic science questions as well as develop new treatments at a level of detail and fidelity previously unattainable.
We are proud to train the next generation of scientists, on whom so much depends. In the summer of 2017, we welcomed the latest cohort of undergraduate students to participate in the HSCI Internship Program. Students from around the world came to work on research projects in HSCI laboratories and develop connections that will have a lasting impact as they continue their scientific careers.
And we are just getting started. Your support enabled many remarkable developments in 2017 that keep us on the trajectory of exponential impact. Stem cell science has changed the way we understand ourselves and disease, and we hope you will join HSCI as we continue to find ways to harness the power of stem cells in transforming patients’ lives.