NYSCF — Robertson Stem Cell Prize

The NYSCF − Robertson Stem Cell Prize has been awarded annually since 2011 to an outstanding young stem cell scientist in recognition of significant and path breaking translational stem cell research. Each NYSCF − Robertson Prize winner receives a cash award as well as a sculpture from The New York Stem Cell Foundation, designed for the prize by the architect Frank Gehry, recipient of the 2009 NYSCF Humanitarian Award.

2015 NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipient

Franziska Michor, PhD

Professor of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Michor is a Professor of Computational Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and in the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where her laboratory fuses evolutionary biology, mathematics, and clinical research in order to gain a better understanding of cancer genesis and treatments.

At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she leads a Physical Science-Oncology Center aimed at using physical sciences to address intractable challenges in cancer biology. Using a quantitative approach, Dr. Michor has shed light on the cellular basis of drug resistance in cancer patients using the drug Gleevec. She has also designed novel cancer drug treatment regimens that are currently being tested in clinical trials involving non-small-cell lung cancer and a brain tumor called pro-neural glioblastoma. Dr. Michor’s work will directly impact therapeutic paradigms in human disease, in particular, cancer, and her selection reflects the increasing importance of systems biology and mathematical modeling approaches to the stem cell field.

Dr. Michor has received the Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Gerstner Young Investigator Award, the Leon Levy Young Investigator Award, the Alice Hamilton Award from Harvard University and recently, the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science.

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2014 NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipient

Marius Wernig, MD, PhD

Stanford University

Marius Wernig, MD, PhD, is a 2010 NYSCF – Robertson Investigator and an associate professor at Stanford University where he and his team discovered that human skin cells can be converted directly into functional neurons, termed induced neuronal (iN) cells. This technique transformed the field of cellular reprogramming by eliminating the need to first create iPS cells, making it easier to generate patient-specific or disease-specific neurons. Potential applications for the cells range from replacing damaged brain tissue to identifying novel drugs and treatments for a range of neurological diseases. Dr. Wernig received his MD and PhD from the Technical University of Munich. He completed his postdoctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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2013 NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipient

Amy Wagers, PhD

Harvard University

Dr. Wagers currently leads an independent research program that focuses on the regulation and therapeutic potential of blood and muscle forming stem cells. Her lab uncovered a role for blood-bourne factors in aging-related degenerative changes, including finding a hormone that regulates aging through stem cell "rejuvenation." Dr. Wagers was awarded the Prize for this work, which has the potential to lead to transformative new therapies for aging and chronic degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy, and cancers among many others. Dr. Wagers is the Forst Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and an Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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2012 NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipient

Kazutoshi Takahashi, PhD

Kyoto University, Japan

Dr. Takahashi is currently a Lecturer at the Center for iPS Research and Application at Kyoto University in Japan. He received his PhD from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan in 2005. After receiving his PhD, Dr. Takahashi completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology and Kyoto University in the laboratory of Shinya Yamanaka, where Dr. Takahashi was lead author on a series of groundbreaking papers that first described reprogramming adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, cells that can become any cell type in the body. This work also led to Dr. Yamanaka's 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

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2011 Inaugural NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize Recipient

Peter J. Coffey, DPhil

University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Coffey is Professor of Cellular Therapy and Visual Sciences at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London, UK. Professor Coffey is internationally recognized as the leading expert in human embryonic stem cells and their potential use to cure blindness. Dr. Coffey was awarded the prize for his pioneering work focusing on the use of human embryonic stem cells to cure Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a common form of blindness. Dr. Coffey’s research has demonstrated that stem cell-based therapy halted visual deterioration in models of AMD, a currently untreatable form of blindness affecting millions of people across the globe.

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