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Stem Cell Technology For Genetic Rescue

September 17-20, 2023  /  La Jolla, California

Steering Committee & Workshop Participants

Steering Committee

Workshop participants

Reprogramming Working Group 

  • Nicole Tay
    Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore
  • Jessye Wojtusik
    Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
  • Jun Wu
    University of Texas Southwestern, USA

In Vitro Gametogenesis Working Group 

Disease Modeling Working Group 

Mock Funding Panel

Revive & Restore Hosts

Ruth Appeltant, University of Antwerp

Dr. Ruth Appeltant is a tenure track research professor at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). The goal of her work is to establish a new research line on in vitro gametogenesis where she will produce oocytes from stem cells. The pig will be used as a large animal model to fight infertility in human and endangered species. As part of the Rhino Fertility Project at the University of Oxford (UK), Dr. Appeltant focused on the conservation of endangered species through artificial reproductive techniques.

Qiuye Bao, Nanyang Technological University

Dr. Qiuye Bao received her PhD from Nanyang Technological University, after which her research interests focused on mouse embryonic neural stem cells, followed by reprogramming of mouse and human blood cells. She joined the ESCAR lab in 2019 where she now works on the reprogramming of a diverse range of endangered wild mammals.

Bridget Baumgartner, Revive & Restore

Growing Revive & Restore’s Catalyst Science Fund is Bridget’s main focus by developing an overarching investment and grant strategy designed to accelerate the creation of impactful innovations in conservation. She works directly with research teams as they submit proposals, refine their scope of work, establish milestones, and oversee progress and deliverables.

Rhishikesh Bargaje, Conception Bio

Dr. Rhishikesh Bargaje has been with Conception since its early days, leading the ovarian somatic cell development efforts. Conception is working on turning induced pluripotent stem cells into human eggs. As part of that effort, Dr. Bargaje’s team focuses on figuring out how to turn stem cells into functional ovarian cells that can support germ cell development, growth, and maturation into viable egg cells. Before joining Conception, he led the regenerative medicine team at Orig3n. His work there involved generating HLA homozygous iPSC lines for off-the-shelf cell therapy.

Andrea Bodnar, Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute

Dr. Andrea Bodnar is the Donald G. Comb Science Director at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI) where our mission is to address critical challenges facing our oceans, human health and the environment through innovative scientific research and education. Her research interests lie at the intersection of marine biology and human health with a focus on using long-lived marine invertebrates as models to inform healthy aging and naturally occurring resistance to cancer. Prior to joining GMGI in 2017, Andrea was a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Discovery Laboratory at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.

Tom Burdon, The Roslin Institute

Dr. Tom Burdon is a Group Leader in the division of Functional Genetics at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK. Since joining the Roslin Institute in 2002, his laboratory developed rat embryonic stem cells as a tool for studying ESC biology and implementing gene targeting and transgenesis in the rat. More recently, his lab has applied this expertise to the development of stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells) as models for studying the genetics and biology of livestock and wild animals.

Stuart M. Chambers, Brightfield Therapeutics

I am passionate about finding curative stem cell therapies by adopting the latest technology, including image-based machine learning and automation.  After my post-doc in Lorenz Studer’s lab, I have worked in cell therapy and Pharma for eight years.

Pierre Comizzoli, Smithsonian Institution

Dr. Pierre Comizzoli has worked as a research veterinarian in French Guyana and in the African Sahelo-Saharan region. He has been a staff scientist at the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute since 2002. He develops new projects on gamete and gonadal tissue cryo-banking for rare and endangered species. Dr. Comizzoli leads the Pan-Smithsonian Cryo-Initiative (PSCI) which aims to improve the management and use of biomaterial repositories within the entire Smithsonian.

Laura Cook, Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory

Dr. Laura Cook uses comparative genomics and advanced mouse genome-engineering to study regulatory evolution across 240+ mammalian species. She completed her PhD with Dr. Irene Gallego Romero and Prof. Andrew Pask at the University of Melbourne studying convergent evolution and is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Mammalian Functional Genomics Group of Drs. Axel Visel and Len Pennacchio. Her expertise is in computational and genome-editing tools for understanding species-specific trait evolution and disease.

Owain Edwards, CSIRO Environment

Dr. Edwards’ genomics research focused initially on the molecular basis of aphid-host plant interactions, then expanded to investigate molecular interactions of aphids with their environment more broadly – including identifying the molecular basis for insecticide resistance. Dr Edwards has subsequently been involved in many global insect genome consortia to address questions in conservation, biosecurity, and agriculture. Most recently, Dr Edwards’ focus has shifted to genetic control of insect pests and invasive species, including the use of novel gene drive technologies. He has been involved in guiding international policy on new synthetic biology technologies, and has worked with Australian regulators to ensure there is sufficient regulation of new genetic control technologies.

Yoshinori Endo, University of California San Diego

Dr. Yoshinori Endo is a postdoc at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive sciences at UCSD. His interest is to understand early development in mammals including non-model species. Mammalian early development has been extensively studied in mouse and human, but we do not know a lot about other species. Understanding the differences and similarities between animals will enable us to gain new insights into them and our own species. Dr. Endo focuses on generating and understanding primordial germ cells (PGCs) of the endangered northern white rhino.

Andrew French, University of Melbourne and Monash University, Australia

Dr. Andrew French helps with breakthrough in growing embryos with revived DNA. He is a contributor to the Lazarus Project, an effort to de-extinct Australia’s gastric brooding frog.

Bob Harman, VetStem, Inc.

Dr. Harman is the CEO and Founder of VetStem, Inc, the first US-based commercial veterinary stem cell company. In 2018, he co-founded Personalized Stem Cells, Inc., a human stem cell company that uses the 18 years of veterinary regenerative medicine data to support translation to human clinics. He has overseen over 500 FDA animal studies and authored 15 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on stem cell therapy.

Katsuhiko Hayashi, Osaka University

Dr. Katsuhiko Hayashi has been working on germ cell development and its reconstitution in vitro through his career. Since 2021, he has been a full professor in the Department of Genome Biology in the Graduate School of Medicine at Osaka University. Dr. Hayashi has worked and trained at a variety of institutions, including Meiji University, Tokyo University of Science, the Osaka Medical Center, University of Cambridge, and Kyushu University.

Thomas Hildebrandt, Leibniz - Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

Dr. Thomas Bernd Hildebrandt is professor and chair of wildlife reproduction medicine at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin. Prof Hildebrandt and his team are world leaders in using artificial reproduction to breed rare and endangered animals such as elephants, rhinos and giant pandas. He was a founding member of the subspecialty Zoo Health Management as part of the European College of Zoological Medicine (ECZM) and is also the head of the Department of Reproduction Management at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.

Ashlee Hutchinson, Revive & Restore

Dr. Ashlee Hutchinson studies the molecular regulation of spermatogonial stem cells as part of Robin Hobbs’s group at Monash University. She completed her PhD with Andrew Pask, deriving iPSCs for the fat-tailed dunnart. As a marsupial biologist, her expertise encompasses stem cells and reproductive technologies (ART) in conventional and diverse model species.

Amy Jenkins, ARPA-H

Dr. Amy Jenkins joined ARPA-H in March 2023 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where she was a Program Manager in the Biological Technologies Office. Her research interests include novel platforms for combating infectious diseases, as well as innovative manufacturing techniques capable of rapidly responding to a wide range of microbial threats.

Timo Kohler, University of Cambridge

Dr. Timo N. Kohler is a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. His work is focussed on how pluripotency – a cell’s ability to differentiate into any cell of the body – is established, maintained and executed. One particular interest is how cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions regulate pluripotency transitions. To this end, Timo has established a droplet microfluidic-based system for encapsulation of cells into 3D microgels.

Marisa Korody

Marisa Korody, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Dr. Korody’s work focuses on induced pluripotent stem cell generation and differentiation in endangered species, especially the northern white rhino (NWR). Her team utilizes the resources of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Frozen Zoo® biobank of fibroblast cells to reprogram genetically diverse individuals for genetic rescue applications. Recent work focuses on differentiation of multiple iPSC lines into primordial germ cells.

Uma Lakshmipathy
Uma Lakshmipathy, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Uma Lakshmipathy obtained her PhD from Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology and subsequently did her postdoctoral degree at University of Minnesota Medical School USA. She has held various position in academia and industry and is currently the Senior Director R&D and Site Head of Cell & Gene Translation Services that supports GMP Cell therapy manufacturing at Thermo Fisher Scientific. She also holds advisory positions for California State University and Cell therapy companies.

Yuin-Han Loh

Jonathan Yuin-Han Loh, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)

Dr Yuin-Han Loh’s research focuses on addressing fundamental questions in 1) Elucidating the regulatory switches and mechanisms of stem cell-fate maintenance, maturation and transition, using next-gen tools and technologies, which empowers the translational process to 2) Engineer sten cell-fates through perturbation of environmental cues and re-wiring of genetic and epigenetic networks, and the 3) Derivation of high-quality cells and tissues for transformative cell-based therapies.

Jeanne F. Loring

Jeanne F. Loring, Scripps Research Institute

Dr. Jeanne Loring is an internationally recognized pioneer in human pluripotent stem cell research, beginning her work on these cells more than 20 years ago. In 2021, her lab was the first to make iPSCs from any endangered species. She has extensive experience in both academia and industry, and is currently Professor Emeritus at Scripps Research in La Jolla, CA, and advisor to Aspen Neuroscience, the company she founded to develop a cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease, using dopamine neurons derived from autologous induced pluripotent stem cells.

Marmee Manack, Revive & Restore

Marmee serves Revive & Restore as Director of Operations, helping to keep the organization running gracefully under the leadership of its Executive Director. Marmee oversees the daily operations which include donor management, accounting, administration, project coordination, event planning — and ensures the dynamic Revive & Restore global community stays connected.

Pete Miraglia, Revive & Restore

Pete is responsible for overall program management and strategy to bring Revive & Restore’s complex projects to life and project manages the Informed Biobanking Initiative with US Fish & Wildlife Service. He works collaboratively with partners and stakeholders to develop new programs, and to accelerate timelines for genetic rescue and ecosystem restoration.

Dr. Alex Ng

Alex Ng, GC Therapeutics

Dr. Alex Ng is the Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of GC Therapeutics, a synthetic biology-driven cell therapy company. Dr. Ng and his co-founders invented a genome-wide platform to discover globally optimal transcription factor combinations to program virtually any desired cell type. Dr. Ng is a pioneer in cell programming technologies and developed many core synthetic biology approaches that have been published in prestigious peer-reviewed papers including in Nature, Science and Cell family journals.

Ben Novak, Revive & Restore

Ben collaboratively pioneers new tools for genetic rescue and de-extinction. As lead scientist, he heads Revive & Restore’s genetic rescue efforts and is the lead coordinator for conservation cloning projects, including cloning projects with black-footed ferrets and Przewalski’s horse. While Ben’s primary passion is the restoration of the extinct passenger pigeon, the conceptualization and advocation of biotech-based genetic rescue solutions for all organisms have been a lifelong pursuit. 

Manabu ONUMA
Manabu Onuma, National Institute for Environmental Studies

Dr. Manabu Onuma is a scientist within the Ecological Risk Assessment and Control Section, Biodiversity Devision at the National Institute for Environmental Studies. He is responsible for a genetic resource bank of endangered species in Japan. Genetic resources, including cultured cells, collected from over 100 endangered species were cryopreserved since 2002. Currently, he promotes the research use of cryopreserved genetic resources. This includes research related to stem cells.

Sara Ord | Colossal Biosciences
Sara Ord, Colossal Biosciences

Sara Ord is Director of Species Restoration at Colossal and is focused on advancing science and technology to change the way we protect endangered species. Sara received her Master’s degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University where she focused on building integrated materials with chemical information processing mechanisms, inspired by biology. Previously, Sara was a researcher at Hypergiant, where she focused on advancements of chemical and molecular processes in space.

Monique Paris Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals The Netherlands
Monique Paris, Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals

Dr. Monique Paris is the Co-founder and Director of the Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals (IBREAM). She is an applied wildlife biologist with specialized knowledge in reproduction, immunology, nutrition, and ethology. Dr. Paris is also an Associate Professor at several Australian universities, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Pretoria. Among many projects, Dr. Paris is involved in animal welfare and ethics regulatory processes.

Dr Andrew Pask
Andrew Pask, University of Melbourne

Dr Andrew Pask is a Professor in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne and Domain Leader for Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology within the School. His recent work is centered on the reproductive system and particularly the influence of hormones and endocrine disruptors on reproductive disease. He also director of the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research – TIGRR lab, which explores marsupial conservation, preservation and restoration.

Francisco Pelegri
Francisco Pelegri, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Francisco Pelegri is professor and chair in the joint Departments of Genetics and Medical Genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Francisco grew up in Caracas, Venezuela until attending college at Univ. of California-Berkeley. Since 1999, he has been an independent investigator at UW Madison studying early vertebrate development and the specification of the germ line in the zebrafish. He works towards developing tools for large-scale biopreservation and the reintroduction of biodiversity through advanced reproduction methods.

Linda Penfold, South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation

Linda is the Director and founder of the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation, and works with zoos and aquariums to help solve breeding problems in endangered and non-domestic species for the long-term population sustainability. With a background in cryobiology and reproduction, Linda works with a diverse range of taxa including coral, elasmobranchs, terrestrial mammals and birds.

Martin Pera
Martin Pera, the Jackson Laboratory

Dr. Martin Pera is a Professor at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, the Chair of the Steering Group of the International Stem Cell Initiative, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and Editor-in-Chief of the society’s journal, Stem Cell Reports. Pera’s research focus is the cell biology of human pluripotent stem cells. Pera was amongst the first to analyze heterogeneity in human pluripotent stem cell cultures, work that is critical to their use as models for human development.

Ryan Phelan, Revive & Restore

Ryan works with some of the world’s leading molecular biologists, conservation biologists, and conservation organizations to envision and develop pioneering genetic rescue projects using cutting-edge genomic technologies in order to solve seemingly intractable wildlife conservation challenges. She has organized landmark workshops on genetic rescue, bringing together global experts to identify the challenges facing endangered species and tools to help save them from extinction. 

Benyamin Rosental
Benyamin Rosental, Ben Gurion University

Dr. Benyamin Rosental is an Assistant Professor at the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Genetics, in the Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research Center at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. While most of the work in the laboratory is focusing on improving transplantation and modulating the immune system in medical settings, due to the unique tools developed in the lab, we also translate our research to other fields. For instance, we are attempting to characterize, isolate and transplant coral stem cells.

Dr. Oliver Ryder
Oliver Ryder, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Dr. Oliver Ryder serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as the Kleberg Endowed Director of Conservation Genetics. He oversees research activities in molecular genetics, genomics studies, and genetic rescue efforts, including stem cell applications, that are focused on reducing extinction risk and contributing to species recovery and sustainable populations. He guides the strategic development of efforts to develop and expand a global network of cryobanking facilities as Chair of the newly formed Animal Biobanking for Conservation Specialist Group of the IUCN.

Woranop Sukparangsi, PhD
Woranop Sukparangsi, Burapha University

Dr. Woranop Sukparangsi is passionate about stem cell research and its applications in wildlife conservation. Currently, their research group concentrates on felid species, ranging from domestic cat models to wild felids. They aim to expand our understanding of felid pluripotent stem cell properties. Collaborating with the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, Dr. Sukparangsi’s group works towards preserving the genetic diversity of wild felids through innovative stem cell research and conservation strategies.

Gareth John Sullivan, Occam Biosciences
Gareth John Sullivan, Occam Biosciences

Dr. Gareth Sullivan is the CSO and Co-founder of Occam Biosciences. He is also Group Leader at the Oslo University Hospital in the Department of Pediatrics. His lab focuses on the development of faithful liver models using human pluripotent stem cells to allow the dissection of debilitating metabolic pediatric disease and infectious diseases. His group was first to demonstrate the generation of functional hepatocyte-like cells from human iPSCs derived from different ethnic backgrounds.

Nicole Tay
Nicole Tay, ESCAR-IMCB
Nicole is a graduate student in the ESCAR lab, working on reprogramming and stem cell-based embryo models. She previously trained as a veterinarian and consults for the development of eco-tourism and nature-based attractions.
Dr. Traylor-Knowles
Nikki Traylor-Knowles, University of Miami

Dr. Traylor-Knowles is an Associate Professor in Marine Biology and Ecology at University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Sciences. She leads the Cnidarian Immunity Laboratory. which investigates the mechanisms of immune function in corals. She is the Founder and Director of Black Women in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Science, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded to help combat the isolation and abuse in STEM against Black women. She is an advocate for Black women in science and academia and is determined to disrupt the system by creating a new narrative and structure.

Shawn Walker
Shawn Walker, ViaGen Pets and Equine

Dr. Shawn Walker is currently the CSO of ViaGen Pets and Equine, where he oversees all ViaGen’s research and cloning production activities. With over ten species cloned, including the endangered Przewalski’s horse and black-footed ferret, Shawn has worked to help make ViaGen the world leader in cloning efficiencies and species production. Shawn earned his PhD at Texas A&M University, where he focused on improving cloning efficiency. While at TAMU, he developed the most efficient method for the production of cloned swine at that time.

Antonia Weberling
Antonia Weberling, University of Cambridge

Dr. Antonia Weberling was awarded a PhD fellowship of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie International Training Network to carry out her PhD focusing on peri- and early postimplantation embryogenesis of mouse and human embryos. In 2023, she was elected as 5-year postdoctoral research fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford, UK, starting in October 2023, to develop her independent research.

Deanne Whitworth, University of Queensland
Deanne Whitworth, University of Queensland

Dr. Deanne Whitworth completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne before studying Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland. Her lab has generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from the Tasmanian devil and the platypus — the first stem cells ever described from a marsupial and monotreme. These iPSCs allow her team to pursue research directed at treating devil facial tumour disease, understanding embryonic development, and the conservation of endangered species.

Suzannah Williams, University of Oxford
Suzannah Williams, University of Oxford

Dr. Suzannah Williams completed her PhD at the Royal Veterinary College, London and established her research group at the University of Oxford. More recently, Dr. Williams has established the Rhino Fertility Project with the aim of developing techniques to culture rhino ovarian tissue and generate follicles and eggs in vitro. This project will develop techniques using Southern White Rhino ovarian tissue with the goal of saving the Northern White Rhino.

Jessye Wojtusik
Jessye Wojtusik, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Dr. Jessye Wojtusik (she/her) is Lead Scientist in the Reproductive Sciences Department at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Her research focuses on investigating biomarkers associated with reproductive health in endangered wildlife and developing and optimizing assisted reproductive technologies to minimize risks, increase ease of use, and improve outcomes. She also contributes to the management of the Omaha Zoo Genetic Resource Bank which contains over 20,000 sperm and embryo samples from 40+ species.

Mark Wolfe
Mark Wolfe, Zoetis

Dr. Mark Wolfe started his career in Discovery Research at the The Upjohn Company in the Cell Biology Department working on in vitro cell models for ion channel discovery projects for 12 years. He spent 15 years at a contract research lab, MPI Research, Managing an In Vitro Safety Pharmacology and Cellular and Molecular Biology Department. He is currently a Principal Scientist in the Companion Animal Molecular Pharmacology group establishing in vitro functional assays to support drug discovery in the animal health industry.

Jun Wu, University of Texas Southwestern
Jun Wu, University of Texas Southwestern

Dr. Jun Wu is an associate professor in the department of molecular biology at UT southwestern medical center. His work has enabled the generation of pluripotent stem cells from many mammalian species, including humans, non-human primates, and ungulates. In addition, Dr. Wu has developed an efficient and versatile blastocyst complementation system for in vivo generation of functional tissues and organs from cultured PSCs.

Pae Wu, IndieBio

Dr. Pae Wu is CTO at IndieBio, where she is responsible for portfolio management and technical oversight. Prior to joining IndieBio, Pae served as the Scientific Director of Telefónica’s moonshot factory, Alpha (in Barcelona). She was Science Director at the US Office of Naval Research – Global (out of Singapore), and technical consultant at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Her whole career, Pae has been investing in high-risk solutions to intractable problems for national defense, humanity, and the planet. She is especially passionate about bridging engineered materials and systems to biology.

Qilong Ying University of Southern California USA
Qilong Ying, University of Southern California

Dr. Qilong Ying is a Professor in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Ying’s research primarily focuses on understanding the molecular basis of embryonic stem cell (ESC) self-renewal and differentiation. He has conducted extensive studies on deriving authentic ESCs from various species, including avian and mammalian species.

Thomas Zwaka, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Thomas Zwaka is a researcher in the field of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. He is known for his research focusing on the understanding of the basic biology of pluripotent stem cells. He has extensively studied how pluripotent stem cells retain their remarkable capacity to develop into any cell type in the human body, and how this feature could be harnessed for therapeutic purposes.