Networking Event

Junior Investigator Event

The ISSCR Junior Investigators Committee and a panel of experts conduct an in-depth discussion in a casual lunch setting. This event is for Junior Investigators only.
$10 USD additional registration required.

Navigating Scientific Career Paths in Academia and Industry

For many of us, choosing the right career path can be daunting. Even after setting career goals, it may not be clear how to reach them. Join us for this luncheon where scientists from various disciplines will share their experiences and advice on how they have successfully navigated their career paths. Attendees and speakers will engage in panel discussion to provide real-life advice on tackling the challenges of finding, and reaching, the career path best suited for you.

Junior Investigator Career Panel

11:30 - 13:00


Nick Barker

Institute of Medical Biology, Singapore

As a postdoc with Hans Clevers, Nick identified deregulation of the Wnt signalling pathway as a major initiating event in colon cancer and subsequently joined Semaia Pharmaceuticals in 2001 to develop small molecule inhibitors of the Wnt pathway as colon cancer therapeutics. In 2006, he rejoined Hans Clevers group, where he identified the Wnt target gene Lgr5 as a marker of adult stem cell populations in various organs. In 2010, Nick joined the IMB in Singapore, where he focuses on the role of Lgr5 gastric stem cells in self-renewal and cancer.


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Stefan Irion

BlueRock Therapeutics

Stefan Irion, MD is the Senior Director, CNS Biology at BlueRock Therapeutics NYC laboratory. He received his MD from the University of Tuebingen in Germany and completed his postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Gordon Keller. He then joined iPierian, a start-up using iPSC technologies, followed by a return to academia to work with Lorenz Studer and Viviane Tabar on a pluripotent stem cell-derived therapy for Parkinson's Disease. This technology was successfully licensed to BlueRock Therapeutics in 2016. Stefan has run pluripotent stem cells research programs in both academia and industry. He has lead projects in multiple therapeutic areas in a fast-paced startup environment at iPierian, where he demonstrated team building and people management skills. There, he developed an induced pluripotent stem cell model of Alzheimer's Disease that led to the discovery of a novel anti-tau antibody (IPN007). Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired iPierian in a $725M deal in 2014. BMS-986168 (IPN007) is now in clinical trials. He is the inventor of iPSC and genome editing patents. Currently, he is a member of the team that will bring MSK-DA01, the new Parkinson's Therapy, into the clinic and to patients. He is also responsible for advancing and developing BlueRock's pipeline of cell therapies for the nervous system


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Sheila Chari

Cell Stem Cell at Cell Press/Elsevier, United States

Sheila is a PhD trained scientist with over 10 years of research experience. She currently holds the position of Editor-in-Chief at Cell Stem Cell, a leading publication dedicated to stem cell science. As Editor, she applies her cross-disciplinary training in stem cell biology, molecular biology, cancer biology and immunology to evaluating research manuscripts and managing their peer review. Her primary responsibility is focused on oversight of journal strategy and managing its editorial staff. In addition, her day-to-day activities include recruiting exciting studies; assessing submitted research papers; selecting and collaborating with referees; commissioning and editing review material, and traveling to scientific conferences and research institutions to keep abreast of the most recent research developments.


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Karin Innes

FB Rice, Australia

She assists Australian clients ranging from universities, medical research institutions, start-ups, as well as biotechnology companies through the provision of patent drafting and prosecutions services, patent strategy, patentability analysis, infringement analysis, due diligence, freedom to operate analysis, preparation of IP reports for company listings as well as patent opposition and litigation.
Through her strong network of overseas associate relationships Karin also assists her clients in obtaining patent protection in a number of overseas jurisdictions including the USA, Europe, China and Japan.

Karin’s technical experience spans numerous technology areas including gene cloning, gene expression and silencing, yeast biology, immunology, microbiology, cell biology, intracellular signalling and diagnostics, with her particular area of expertise focussing on antibodies, aptamers and stem cell biology (including mesenchymal stem cell, cardiac stem cells and ES cells).

Prior to becoming a patent attorney Karin worked in oncology clinical trial management for Amgen Australia. Her PhD research was undertaken at the prestigious Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) for Medical Research and focussed on strategies to generate immortalised murine haemopoietic stem cells. Karin has authored scientific papers and regularly authors articles on IP-related content. She is regularly invited to speak on panels and is passionate about teaching and career mentoring. Karin is a member of IPSANZ and AusBiotech and is on the IPSANZ Committee.


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Elizabeth Finkel

Cosmos Magazine, Australia

Elizabeth Finkel is a former biochemist who now tells the stories of others scientists, as a writer and and editor. Since June 2013 she has been Editor in Chief of Cosmos Magazine.
She has published two books: “Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science” in 2005, which won the Queensland premier’s Literary award and “The Genome Generation” in 2012. Her work is regularly anthologized in Best Australian Science Writing.
In 20I5, she won the Eureka Award for Science Journalism from the Department of Industry and Science.


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Yvanka De Soysa

UCSF/Gladstone Institutes, CA, United States

Yvanka de Soysa was born in Sri Lanka. She completed her undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences at Smith College, Massachusetts, where, through a course of developmental biology, she became fascinated by stem cells and mechanisms of cell fate determination. After Smith, she was a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. George Daley at Boston Children's Hospital where she contributed to studies focused on dissecting the role of the RNA-binding protein, Lin28 in development, regeneration and tumorigenesis. Yvanka is now a 5th year PhD candidate at the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. Deepak Srivastava. For her PhD, Yvanka is using single cell technologies to study early specification of cardiac progenitors into distinct cardiac cell subtypes during mouse embryonic development. When she's not in the lab, she can be found singing in the UCSF a cappella group, the vocal chords, and sharing her love of science and discovery with middle and high school students in San Francisco.


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Junior Investigator Career Panel

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