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  Newsletter Issue 4, 4 October 2016








"Modeling Cell Fate & Development"

7 - 8 November 2016

Matrix Building

30 Biopolis Street, Singapore 138671












Dear Delegates & Delegates-to-be,

Issue 4 of our biweekly newsletter is now ready for your reading pleasure!

The following Symposium Speakers are featured today:


Mark RICHARDS (Keynote Speaker)

Cardiovascular Research Institute, NUHS, Singapore



Columbia University Medical Center, USA


Christine CHEUNG

Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore


Please scroll down to discover what these speakers have to contribute to the content
of the symposium!



View the tentative programme here.

To learn more about the symposium, please see our Symposium Webpage.


Important deadline coming up soon:


Online registration closes: 24 October 2016


Reserve your seat for this great event in Singapore right now.

To register, click HERE.

Contact us HERE.

We look forward welcoming you at the Symposium soon.

The Organizing Committee "Stem Cell Society Singapore Symposium 2016"




Featured Speakers  



Cardiovascular Research Institute, NUHS, Singapore

Is Singapore facing Cardiovascular Catastrophe?


Recent efforts to characterize the character and evolution of the burden of cardiovascular disease in Singapore have included documentation of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and survival after AMI in Singapore’s three main ethnicities. Recruitment of coronary heart disease (CHD) cohorts in both Singapore and the Netherlands has allowed East:West comparisons of the burden of cardiovascular risk factors and their relationship to the severity of coronary disease and morbid and mortal outcomes from CHD. Heart failure (HF) has been studied at both acute and chronic stages and the demography and background risk substrates for HF in Singapore compared with those in New Zealand.

Uniformly, Asian ethnicities in Singapore incur more severe cardiovascular disease at a younger age than their western counterparts and this occurs on a background of exceptionally high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension. Singapore, and much of Asia is experiencing an epidemic of cardiovascular disease.




Biography Webpage

Mark Richards, was appointed in November 2009 as the Director of Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI), Professor in the Department of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Director of Research National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS). Prof Richards retains appointments as a Cardiologist at the Canterbury District Health Board and Professor in Medicine at the University of Otago, Christchurch. He is Director of the Christchurch Heart Institute, University of Otago and Professor of Cardiovascular Studies for the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand.  Prof Richards has been actively involved in research for 30 years and has received numerous national research grants from the main funding institutions in New Zealand. He is author on more than 490 peer-reviewed articles published in various cardiovascular, general medicine, hypertension, clinical chemistry and endocrinology journals since 1983.

In addition, he is a member of the editorial boards for numerous peer-reviewed journals which include European Journal of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Drugs Review etc. He has pioneered research into cardiac biomarkers over a 30 year period and is best known for translational introduction of plasma cardiac natriuretic peptides in clinical management of Heart Failure. The CVRI has programs in basic and applied cardiovascular research with special strength in heart failure, underpinned by major grant support (Centre Grant S$10M over 4 years, Translational Clinical Research (TCR) Grant ; S$9M over 5 years)  and Professor Richards holds a personal STaR Award (S$8.5M over 5years).


What is your most memorable career achievement?

Leading a team pioneering the discovery, validation and application of plasma NT-proBNP which is now the world’s most widely used diagnostic, prognostic and monitoring test for heart failure.

What attracted you to a career in Science?


Who are your scientific heroes/role models and why?

Rutherford who did so much with such primitive technology.

What do you think are the main issues confronting stem cell researchers at the moment?

(1) Survival of cells in the desired location

(2) True functional and structural integration of stem cells into the target tissue


What do you think is the single most important factor driving or inhibiting a broader clinical application of stem cells?

Lack of definitive proof of substantive benefit exceeding that otherwise attainable (at least in cardiovascular disease).

What would you be if not a scientist/clinician?


What's the best advice you ever had?

Pick your battles.




Columbia University Medical Center, USA

Complex dynamic enhancers control outwardly stable gene expression in postmitotic neurons  

Using high-resolution chromatin immunoprecipitation-exonuclease (ChIP-exo) mapping, we uncovered transcriptional regulatory logic underlying maintenance of gene expression in postmitotic neurons.  Surprisingly, we find that enhancers established by programming transcription factors are highly transient. In spinal motor neurons this is exemplified by the release of Isl1 transcription factor from enhancers following Lhx3 downregulation and recruitment, primarily through protein-protein interactions, to new enhancers containing clusters of Onecut1 transcription factor.

Importantly, many core motor neuron effector genes are associated with independent Isl1/Lhx3- and Isl1/Onecut1-bound enhancers, suggesting that outwardly stable expression of terminal identity genes in postmitotic cells is controlled by a dynamic relay of stage-specific enhancers.

Biography Lab webpage PubMed  

Hynek Wichterle is an associate professor holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Pathology & Cell Biology and Neuroscience (in Neurology) at Columbia University Medical center. He received his M.S. degree from Charles University in Prague and his Ph.D. degree from The Rockefeller University. He trained at Columbia University, where he became assistant professor in 2004 and associate professor in 2012. He serves as a co-director of the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease, a co-director of Columbia Stem Cell Initiative and as a Vice-Chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine in the Department of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine. Hynek developed groundbreaking methods for producing spinal cord neurons from pluripotent embryonic stem cells in a culture dish. The process faithfully recapitulates normal embryonic development, providing a unique opportunity to study and experimentally probe nerve cells in a controlled environment outside of the embryo.  

He is using the system to decode transcriptional programs that control genes important for neuronal differentiation, maturation, and function. His lab also capitalizes on the unlimited source of spinal neurons to study motor neuron degenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), with the goal of discovering new drugs for these currently untreatable, devastating conditions.


Christine CHEUNG

Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore

A man is as old as his arteries – mechanisms in neurovascular development and pathology  

Vascular ageing and neurological diseases impose significant burden on our healthcare systems. It is postulated that cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases share many biological risk factors with cardiovascular disease, underscoring a common pathology in the blood vessels. However, there is increasing evidence suggesting that the vasculatures in various organs could influence differential local tissue responses despite similar genetic and systemic conditions. For example, CADASIL, a hereditary disease with NOTCH3 mutation, causes smooth muscle degeneration particularly in the cerebral vasculatures, leading to white matter lesions. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy, characterised by accumulation of toxic amyloid proteins in the blood vessel walls, is unique to the brain as well. The vascular contribution to the progression of neurological disorders remains elusive due to a lack of patients' materials for research. My lab addresses this by creating brain-specific blood vessels from human pluripotent stem cells.

These vascular cells are able to recapitulate defective amyloid-β processing under oxygen deprivation. This would help us better understand amyloid-β metabolism in cerebral vasculatures and develop phenotypic assays for therapeutics screening. I will also present a few studies on how vascular ageing may differ in the brain from other tissues, and whether there could be intrinsic differences of organ-specific blood vessels in regulating local tissue pathogenesis. Eventually, our goal is to elucidate neurovascular disease mechanisms to inform preventive strategies and therapies targeted at restoring blood vessel health.

Biography Lab webpage  

Dr Christine Cheung received a PhD in Cardiovascular and Stem Cell Medicine from the University of Cambridge, and a BEng (First Class) from Imperial College London. Upon securing the competitive Independent Fellowship in 2012, she started up a research group at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. Her lab focuses on the genetic basis of blood vessel health and biomarker development for vascular ageing. To further her work, Dr Cheung was awarded the A*STAR Career Development Award grant and the Biomedical Research Council Young Investigator Grant. For her pioneering approach to create organ-specific blood vessels, she was recognised with the Young Investigator Prize from the British Society for Cardiovascular Research.

She is a co-inventor of three patents on cell-based technologies for applications in drug discovery. Being part of the founding team of Biotech Connection Singapore, the organisation aims to promote life-science innovations and entrepreneurship by fostering interaction between academia, industry and investors. Dr Cheung is also an adjunct Assistant Professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University.

© 2016 Stem Cell Society Singapore