New president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research seeks to advance stem cell science
George Daley MD, PhD, is the Society's second president from Children's Hospital Boston
June 18, 2007
Continuing Children's Hospital Boston's global leadership in stem cell science, George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, has become the new president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), which is holding its 5th annual meeting this week (June 17-20) in Cairns, Australia.
The ISSCR is an independent, nonprofit organization formed in 2002 to foster the exchange of information on stem cell research. Daley, associate director of the Children's Hospital Boston Stem Cell Program, is the organization's fourth president. He takes over from Paul Simmons, PhD, of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston.
"George Daley has been an integral voice in the science, ethics and politics of stem cells," says Leonard Zon, MD, founder and first president of the ISSCR, and current director of the Children's Hospital Boston Stem Cell Program. "His leadership will steer the ISSCR into a new era for the field."
Daley, a hematologist at Children's as well as a laboratory investigator, is a passionate advocate for stem cell research. He has testified frequently before the U.S. Congress about the need to develop new embryonic stem cell lines and for government support of both embryonic and adult stem cell research.
As ISSCR president, Daley plans to continue educating the public and lawmakers about the science of stem cell research, while encouraging international adherence to ethical guidelines in embryonic stem cell research. The ISSCR released a set of ethics guidelines in February, and Daley personally chaired the task force that was responsible.
"I hope to make these guidelines more relevant to practitioners and stem cell oversight committees worldwide," he said. "As countries debate what sorts of regulations to put in place, we want to take a leadership role, acknowledging the social context of the work while removing unnecessary barriers to scientific progress. We want to promote responsible, uniform research practices."
Above all, Daley's vision for the ISSCR is to build stem cell research into a robust branch of science that can bring cell-based therapies to the bedside of patients who badly need them. He plans a capital campaign to increase the ISSCR's ability to support research through programs such as the establishment of a shared database and warehouse for embryonic stem cell lines. Such programs will help establish international scientific standards for stem cell research and encourage the free exchange of materials, he says.
Daley's laboratory at Children's Hospital Boston is working toward understanding the basic science of embryonic stem cells, the development of blood-forming or hematopoietic tissue and the development of germ cells (primitive cells in the embryo that give rise to sperm or eggs). Daley has also done extensive research on chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a cancer of the blood caused by genetically defective stem cells.
Daley's ultimate research goal is to combine embryonic-stem-cell creation with gene therapy, creating cells that are customized to patients and match their genetic makeup, making them rejection-proof and feasible for therapeutic use. As a pediatric hematologist, Daley envisions using these valuable cells to treat children with life-threatening blood diseases like sickle-cell anemia, immune deficiency disorders and leukemia. "By using customized, genetically-matched cells -- effectively patients' own cells -- we hope to eliminate the need for tissue matching and avoid the rejection problems that currently plague transplants," he says.
Daley's laboratory was the first to transform mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) into hematopoietic (blood) stem cells. With Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, at the Whitehead Institute, Daley was the first to combine ESCs with gene therapy, introducing corrective genes into mouse ESCs to treat mice with immune deficiency. Daley's lab was also the first to transform ESCs into a continuously growing line of embryonic germ cells, and also to create primitive male sperm that were capable of fertilizing an egg -- creating embryos with full sets of chromosomes. This work was cited by Science Magazine as a "Top Ten" breakthrough for 2003.
Daley is also associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Children's Hospital Boston and Dana Farber Cancer Institute and associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. Clinically trained in Internal Medicine and Hematology, Daley is currently a staff physician in Hematology/Oncology at Children's Hospital Boston, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He received a bachelor's degree magna cum laude from Harvard University (1982), a PhD in biology from MIT (1989), and his MD summa cum laude from Harvard Medical School (1991).
In 2004, Daley received the inaugural NIH Director's Pioneer Award, a five-year unrestricted grant to pursue highly innovative research, and recently received the Judson Daland Prize of the American Philosophical Society for outstanding achievement in patient-oriented clinical investigation.
Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 347-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about the hospital and its research visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.
George Daley, MD, PhD