StemCONN 2013: Connecticut's Stem Cell Research Symposium

New Haven, CT
Wednesday, April 03, 2013


Larry Goldstein, Ph.D.

Professor, University of California San Diego; Director, UC San Diego Stem Cell Center
Dr. Goldstein is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), School of Medicine and Director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program. He is also an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). 

Dr. Goldstein did postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1980 to 1983 and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1983 to 1984. He was assistant, associate, and full professor at Harvard University in the Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology from 1984 to 1993, when he moved to UCSD and HHMI.

His awards include a Senior Scholar Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation, an American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, the Loeb Chair in Natural Sciences when he was at Harvard University, election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the 2009 Public Service Award from the American Society for Cell Biology.

Edison T. Liu, M.D.

President and CEO, Jackson Laboratory; President, Human Genome Organization (HUGO)
Dr. Liu is the President and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory, and has been president of the international Human Genome Organization (HUGO) since 2007. Dr. Liu joined the Laboratory from the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). As founding executive director, Dr. Liu built the GIS from a staff of three into a major research institute of 27 laboratory groups and a staff of 270, with faculty in functional genomics, computational biology, population genetics and genome-to-systems biology. Before moving to Singapore in 2001, he was the scientific director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Clinical Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

Dr. Liu was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel laureate J. Michael Bishop. He was also director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center's Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Breast Cancer, the director of the Laboratory of Molecular Epidemiology at UNC's School of Public Health, chief of medical genetics, and chair of the Correlative Science Committee of the national cooperative clinical trials group, CALGB. Dr. Liu also held faculty positions in the University of North Carolina departments of medicine, epidemiology, biochemistry and biophysics, and in the curriculum in genetics.
Dr. Liu’s own scientific research has focused on the functional genomics of human cancers, particularly breast cancer, uncovering new oncogenes, and deciphering the dynamics of gene regulation on a genomic scale that modulate cancer biology. He has authored nearly 300 scientific papers and reviews, and co-authored two books.


Jonathan Rothberg, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO: Ion Torrent Systems, RainDance Technologies; Clarifi; 454 Life Sciences CuraGen Corporation
Dr. Rothberg is best known for inventing high-speed, massively parallel DNA sequencing. The idea for massively parallel DNA sequencing (next gen sequencing) came to him after his infant son was rushed to intensive care and he realized how critical individual genome sequencing was to human health. He subsequently founded 454 Life Sciences, bringing to market the first new method for sequencing genomes since Sanger and Gilbert won the Nobel Prize in 1980. Dr. Rothberg's invention introduced the era of personal genomes and is now in use at major pharmaceutical companies, universities, genome centers, and medical centers around the world. He led the effort to complete the first sequence of an individual human genome, successfully sequencing James D. Watson's genome. He also initiated the first large-scale sequencing of ancient DNA, the Neanderthal Genome Project, in collaboration with Dr. Svante Paabo. Under his tenure, 454 Life Sciences worked with collaborators to crack the mystery behind the disappearance of the honey bee, uncover a new virus killing transplant patients, and elucidate the extent of individual human variation—work recognized by Science magazine as the breakthrough of the year for 2007.

The New England Journal described Dr. Rothberg’s sequencing innovation as "The New Age of Molecular Diagnostics for Microbial Agents." Science magazine called it one of the top 10 breakthroughs for 2008. In 2007, Dr. Rothberg’s son again inspired him to start a new business. After telling Noah that he'd successfully read Dr. James Watson's genome, his son responded that that he should invent something to read people's minds instead.  He quickly realized that his child was right: what scientists really needed was a direct way to get information from any biological system—the brain, chromosomes, biochemical pathways—and translate it directly into digital information.

Dr. Rothberg founded Ion TorrentTM to link the language of chemistry and the binary language of computers, and developed the ION torrent chip, a novel semiconductor device that creates a portal between the two worlds. Dr. Rothberg went on to invent semiconductor based sequencing, and sequenced Gordon Moore as the first individual to be sequenced on a semiconductor chip (as published in Nature), and the first post-light Genome. In October 2010, Ion Torrent was acquired by Life Technologies for $725 million. In addition to founding 454 Life Sciences and Ion Torrent, Dr. Rothberg is the founding CEO & Chairman of RainDance Technologies, Clarifi Corporation, and CuraGen Corporation.

He is the first person to be named as The World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneer for three separate companies he founded, is an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and received The Wall Street Journal's First Gold Medal for Innovation.

David T. Scadden, M.D.

David T. Scadden, MD Gerald and Darlene Jordan Professor of Medicine 
Co-chair, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Co-chair, Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Harvard University
Director, Center for Regenerative Medicine;
Chief, Hematologic Malignancies, Cancer Center Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Scadden is the Gerald and Darlene Jordan Professor of Medicine at Harvard University. He is a practicing hematologist/oncologist who focuses on bringing stem cell biology to patient care. He founded and directs the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and with Douglas Melton, co-founded and co-directs the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Harvard University Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, the Board of External Experts for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and a former member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors. He has received multiple honorary degrees, awards and memberships in honorary societies. His work emphasizes targeting the stem cell niche to attain novel therapies for blood diseases.

The Scadden laboratory focuses on blood, particularly the regulation of the hematopoietic stem cell by its microenvironment or niche. Using a combination of genetics, imaging and pharmacology, the laboratory has defined key components of the niche and how stem cells traffic to and engraft the bone marrow. It has demonstrated methods of altering niche interactions that have resulted in two clinical trials in the use of stem cells to treat hematologic malignancies.

Based on understanding mechanisms by which normal stem cells are governed in normal tissues, the laboratory has emphasized the role of the niche in disease. We have demonstrated the primary role the microenvironment can play in disordered tissue homeostasis and the emergence of malignancy. This work is the basis for investigating niche based approaches to cancer.


Jonathan Covaut, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Residency Training, Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Dr. Covault is an active investigator in the University of Connecticut Alcohol Research Center with a primary focus on investigations of genetic variation related to alcohol use disorders and their associated phenotypes. Current research projects include comparing the effects of alcohol exposure on human neural cells generated from characterized drinkers using induced pluripotent stem cell technology, investigation of molecular, cellular and behavioral effects of genetic polymorphisms associated with alcohol dependence, examination of gene x life stress interactions related to heavy drinking among college students, and pharmacotherapy treatment trails for problem drinkers including examination of genetic moderation of treatment response.

Dr. Covault is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He is an attending psychiatrist at John Dempsey Hospital, Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training and Scientific Director of the University of Connecticut Health Center Clinical Research Center Core Laboratory. Dr. Covault graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.S. in General Science in 1977 and then completed the MD/PhD program at University of Iowa School of Medicine in 1982 earning a PhD in Biochemistry with Dr. Roger Chalkley where he identified and characterized kinetically fast vs. slow histone acetylation and their association with transcriptionally active vs. inactive chromatin. He completed post-doctoral research with Dr. Joshua Sanes at Washington University examining the role of neural cell adhesion molecules in nerve-muscle synapse formation and then continued his examination of neural cell adhesion molecules as an Assistant Professor of Physiology and Neurobiology at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Covault then completed residency training in Psychiatry at the Institute of Living/University of Connecticut (1993-1997) prior to joining the Psychiatry Department faculty at the UConn Health Center in 1997.

Laura Grabel, Ph.D.

Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, Professor of Biology, Wesleyan University
Dr. Grabel’s work examines many aspects of embryonic stem cell differentiation, most recently the production of neural stem cells and neurons from mouse and human embryonic stem cells. In culture, differentiating embryonic stem cells form neural rosettes that mimic the embryonic neural tube. In collaboration with Dr. Jan Naegele and Dr. Gloster Aaron, also at Wesleyan, efforts have focused on characterizing the fate of embryonic stem cell-derived neural progenitors transplanted into mouse models of temporal lobe epilepsy. These experiments have shown that embryonic stem cell-derived neural progenitors can differentiate into functional neurons within the hippocampus.

Dr. Grabel received her PhD at the University of California, San Diego and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Gail Martin at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the Lauren B. Dachs Chair of Science and Society at Wesleyan, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a council member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. As Co-PI of the Stem Cell Core grant to the University of Connecticut Health Center, Dr. Grabel runs the outreach component of the program.


Jun Lu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Genetics, Department of Biological and BioMedical Sciences, Yale University
Dr. Lu is currently an Assistant Professor of Genetics at Yale University, a core member of the Yale Stem Cell Center, and members of Yale Cancer Center and Yale Center for RNA Science and Medicine. Dr. Lu obtained his doctoral degree in 2003 in Biochemistry at Boston University, where he studied under the guidance of Dr. Katya Ravid with a focus on transcriptional and epigenetic gene regulation in hematopoiesis and cancer. Dr. Lu received postdoctoral training under Dr. Todd Golub at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, during which he used a genomics approach to highlight the potential of microRNAs in cancer diagnostics, and the small RNA’s important functions in mammalian cell fate determination.

Since joining the faculty of Yale, Dr. Lu’s laboratory focuses on studying microRNA’s function in hematopoiesis, cancer and pluripotent stem cells. His laboratory has discovered microRNA-mediated control in blood cell recovery and in complex oncogene addiction behavior. In addition, his laboratory is also pioneering new technologies with the aim to benefit the microRNA research community. Such technologies include in vitro and in vivo functional genetic screens in mouse and high-throughput functional definition of microRNA targeting. Among the honors he received, Dr. Lu was a Scholar of the William Guy Forbeck Research Foundation, and a recipient of the Stewart Trust Fellowship.


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