Stem Cell Person of the Year 2016: Patient Advocate Ted Harada

Stem cell ethics meeting

Ted, Me, and Judy

Patient advocate Ted Harada is the recipient of this year’s Stem Cell Person of the Year Award.

Congrats also to the runner-up, HD patient advocate Judy Roberson. The three of us together are pictured at left.

You can read about the 20 nominees here and see the vote results that picked the 10 finalists here.

Very sadly, as many of you know, Ted passed away just a few months ago from a brain tumor so I am giving him this award posthumously. Accepting the award on his behalf is his wife Michelle.  Ted and I shared a deep commitment to our families. You can see a picture of Ted, Michelle, and their kids below. What a great family!

You can see a video of Ted talking about Right To Try below.

Each year that I’ve done the Stem Cell Person of the Year Award, I’ve been faced with the wonderful, but difficult challenge of picking one winner out of a group of outstanding finalists and this year was no different.

With this award that includes a $2,000 prize, I’m looking for an outside-the-box risk taker who has made a positive impact in the world of stem cells. Ted fit the bill perfectly. Ted Harada Family

Ted was a clinical trial participant for a new stem cell therapy for ALS in a trial run by the biotech Neuralstem. As such, Ted put himself at risk (transplanted cells have risks, immunosuppression has risks, etc.). He did this for the benefit of the field and for other patients. However, Ted went well beyond that. He was also a tireless patient advocate and educator who inspired countless people.

Ted respected other’s opinions and was a true class act. For instance, although Ted and I didn’t see entirely eye-to-eye on some things like Right to Try, that wasn’t a wedge. He served as a bridge between different parts of the community. Here at UC Davis we run an annual symposium on stem cell ethics and one year Ted was an invited speaker. He made a big, positive impact at our meeting.

Overall, Ted left the world including the stem cell and regenerative medicine arena a far better place. You can read my tribute to Ted after his death here. I only wish I could have given him this award in person.

Nominations open for Stem Cell Person of the Year 2016 Award

Nominations are open starting today for the Stem Cell Person of the Year Award for 2016. Please email me your nominations: knoepflerATucdavisDOTedu.stem-cell-person-of-the-year-award

This is a unique award as it is given to an individual who has taken risks to help others within the stem cell field and they based their actions on outside-the-box thinking.

Another unusual aspect is that anyone is eligible for the prize whether you are a scientist, physician, patient, writer, student, etc. There are also no geographic restrictions.

The winner receives recognition as a positive leader in this arena and a $2,000 cash prize that I award myself out of pocket.

Nominations will close one month from today on October 15th.

The nominations I receive will then be subject to an Internet vote and the top 50% will be the finalists, from which I will choose the winner. While I alone choose the winner, I often get feedback from leaders around the globe in the stem cell and regenerative medicine field.

Previous winners include these stellar stem cell leaders:

Who will win the Stem Cell Person of the Year Award for 2016? Send me your nominations.

Stem Cell Person of the Year 2015: Jeanne Loring

Jeanne LoringCongratulations to Dr. Jeanne Loring, the winner of the Stem Cell Person of the Year Award for 2015.

Facing steep competition from a very tough field of competitors of finalists, Jeanne came out as the winner for her exceptional contributions in 2015 and throughout her many years in the field. She not only has made numerous advances scientifically, but also gone the extra mile in many respects as an advocate and educator.

Her scientific contributions include outstanding research on human stem cells and in particular in stem cell epigenetics. See her publications on GoogleScholar.  She has been a great mentor to her trainees. You can visit her lab page here.

She has also been a creative leader in producing IPS cells from endangered species, an area with huge potential ecologically and at a societal level in terms of preventing extinctions.

Jeanne has mobilized patient advocates and catalyzed exciting work in the clinical pipeline in a number of areas including most prominently in the last few years for Parkinson’s Disease.

For instance, the patient organization Summit for Stem Cell that Jeanne works on is doing amazing things.

More broadly, Jeanne has often led the way on important, but difficult issues such as on the WARF patent challenge. In addition, she has been a fierce advocate for evidence-based medicine and has been unafraid to challenge predatory stem cell clinics. A video of Jeanne talking about stem cell tourism is pasted above.

Overall, Jeanne has had a transformative positive impact at least in part via taking risks and thinking outside the box, important criteria for the Stem Cell Person of the Year Award.

Jeanne has declined the $2,000 financial component of the Award. I’m currently considering whether to donate the funds to a charity or put them towards a novel educational outreach project in the stem cell field.

TGIF links to tip-top weekend science reading

Some stuff to read, think about, and do.

Masayo Takahashi (高橋 政代) Receives Ogawa-Yamanaka Stem Cell Prize

Masayo TakahashiThe winner of the inaugural Ogawa-Yamanaka Prize is Dr. Masayo Takahashi, MD, PhD.

According to the Gladstone Institute press release, “Dr. Takahashi was awarded the prize for her trailblazing work leading the first clinical trial to use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in humans.”

The prize, including a $150,000 cash award, will be given at a ceremony next week at the Gladstone on September 16. If you are interested in listening in, you can register for the webcast here.

Dr. Takahashi started the first ever human clinical study using iPS cells, which is focused on treating of macular degeneration using retinal pigmented epithelial cells derived from human iPS cells.

Congratulations to Dr. Takahashi for the great and well-deserved honor of the Ogawa-Yamanaka Prize.

As readers of this blog likely recall, Dr. Takahashi received our blog’s Stem Cell Person of the Year Award last year in honor of her pioneering work and that included a $2,000 prize.

Other past winners of our Stem Cell Person of the Year Award have gone on to get additional awards too.

The 2013 Stem Cell Person of the Year, Dr. Elena Cattaneo, went on to win the ISSCR Public Service Award in 2014 along with colleagues.

And our 2012 Stem Cell Person of the Year Award winner, stellar patient advocate Roman Reed, went on in 2013 to receive the GPI Stem Cell Inspiration Award.

The more we can recognize the pioneers and outside-the-box thinkers in the stem cell field, the better.