The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has awarded Francis Crick Institute group leader Robin Lovell-Badge its 2021 Public Service Award in recognition of his contributions to policy surrounding embryo and stem cell research and clinical practice.
ISSCR is a non-profit organisation that promotes excellence in stem cell research and is committed to ensuring this work is translated responsibly into the clinic. It is the leading professional organisation for stem cell scientists, representing more than 4,000 members across 67 countries.
Robin, senior group leader of the Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics Laboratory at the Crick, says: “It is an incredible honour to receive this award, and I would like to thank all the great collaborators and talented scientists I have had the privilege of working with and learning from.
“The stem cell field is rapidly advancing, powered by a growing understanding of the biology which underpins it and the development of new techniques and tools. I’m excited to see what further discoveries are made and how these are used to improve health.”
Robin has a number of outstanding achievements in stem cell research. In 1990, in collaboration with Peter Goodfellow, he discovered how a single gene present on the Y chromosome, SRY, sets cells in reproductive organs on the path to becoming male. He also discovered and showed the importance of the Sox2 protein for embryonic stem cells and several tissue-specific stem cell types.
Alongside his research, Robin has provided expert advice and guidance on how aspects of science should be governed in the UK and globally. He is a member of the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee, providing advice on research and clinical practice involving human embryos, and he has contributed to changes made in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act over two decades. He is also deeply embedded in many of the debates around human genome editing and currently serves on a WHO Committee looking at governance in this area.
He is also leading an international group of scientists to update the ISSCR guidelines on how stem cell science should be carried out responsibly, ethically and effectively.
Robin continues, “As stem cell science evolves, we must ensure that the landscape it sits within also adapts. This includes the guidance and regulation which govern the sector and promote best practice. There is an important role for scientists to play here, to advocate for sensible rules which give room for innovation whilst also ensuring safety and ethical principles are protected.
“This policy work is rewarding, offers a new perspective on our work, a chance to meet interesting people and can be a lot of fun. It’s been a priority for me, and I would encourage others to take part where they can, offering and sharing their expertise to help secure the future for this field of work.”
Christine Mummery, ISSCR President says: “It is truly a privilege to recognise Robin for his innumerable contributions to the ISSCR and to stem cell science as an accomplished and respected researcher and an ambassador for the field.
“His leadership of the task force to update the Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation, which is due out later this year, combined with his extensive contributions to science advocacy and essential role in driving controversial issues throughout his career, catapulted Robin to the top of the ISSCR Board’s consideration for this honour.”
The award will be presented in June during ISSCR 2021 Virtual, the world’s leading meeting of global innovators in stem cell science and regenerative medicine.