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ISSCR Virtual Conference 2020

While the global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has prevented the annual ISSCR (International Society for the Stem Cell Research ) conference from being carried out in person this year, the organisation has managed to overcome this obstacle, putting together a 5-day online event that exceeded our expectations, between the 23rd and 27th of June. Several dozen speakers of the highest level have presented their latest works through the platform built for the event. The inevitable small technical issues were swiftly overcome, thanks in no small part to the very adaptable speakers, understanding audience and helpful organisers.

The scientific content of the conference was of excellent quality, as can be expected from the largest international stem cell event of the year and from the world experts who participated in it. Works published in the best journals, ultramodern techniques and groundbreaking results have been presented to the community, and discussions of all kinds have taken place in the different showrooms.

Due to the focus of our research in the Sancho Lab, the session on pancreas moderated by Dr Douglas A. Melton was of great interest to us. While the 5 hour difference in timezone meant that the session continued into the early morning, the talks were excellent, managing to captivate us and hold our undivided attention, which is no small feat at 2 AM GMT! Experts such as Drs Kevin D’Amour, Jeffrey R. Millman, Samantha Collins, Xi Wang, Han Zhu, Connor Wiegand, and Hongkui Deng presented the latest research into the development of β cells from pluripotent stem cells for the treatment of diabetes. The talks covered a wide array of approaches, including the replacement of islets, the effect of the cytoskeleton on differentiation, the enrichment of β and α cells in transplants, the use of hydrogel nanofibers, a multi-chemical approach to β cell maturation and organoid vascularization.

Overall, our team has greatly enjoyed the conference and we have definitely learned more about techniques and experiments we could apply to our own research as well as to future projects. We hope to see everyone again, this time in person, at the 2021 ISSCR Conference in Hamburg!

Text by: Sergio Pedraza-Arevalo and Teodora Manea

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