The Role of a Lifetime

In the world of research, my motivation is to help people within their lifetimes. I care about pulling together the resources to do things that matter.

I first became drawn to stem cell transplantation when I was a second year medical student at Ohio State. I heard a one hour lecture by a researcher named Peter Tutschka, who was one of the developers of stem cell transplantation at Johns Hopkins.

And I thought, right there, stem cell transplantation is what I want to do.

I was drawn to Seattle by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where a patient was receiving a stem cell transplant. When I arrived, in 1989, Fred Hutchinson was already a mecca for stem cell research and stem cell transplantation.  

At Fred Hutch, I worked in the lab of George Stamatoyannopoulous, who was one of the pioneers in human genetics, and his wife, Thalia Papayannopoulou. Eventually, temporary setbacks in the field of gene therapy led me to stem cells – and to Randy Moon and Chuck Murry. Founding ISCRM with Randy and Chuck was the perfect opportunity to make a lasting impact by uniting great minds from different areas of science and medicine.

I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to embark on this journey with Randy and Chuck, my colleagues and close friends. Randy, the exceptionally-talented basic scientist, knew our success would be measured by our ability to translate research into treatments, and pushed tirelessly for the high throughput screening a core, now an ISCRM fixture playing a critical role in drug discovery. And Chuck was driven by his commitment to regenerating hearts, an achievement on the horizon that could shatter barriers for other life-changing lines of research.

The ISCRM community also owes a deep debt to Carol Ware, who created the Stem Cell Core Lab, where researchers from different backgrounds could learn from each other about the nuances of tapping into the power of stem cells. Carol set the tone for a culture that has become part of the Institute’s DNA. And, of course, we’re all grateful for the philanthropic funding that provided the fuel we needed to build the Institute into what is today.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a job and a career where I can do what I want. And being the cheerleader in chief of ISCRM has been the role of a lifetime. I’m thrilled and very proud of what ISCRM has become.