Innovators in Science Award Honorees – Regenerative Medicine
Senior Scientist Winner
Full Professor of Biochemistry
Director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine “Stefano Ferrari”
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Dr. Michele De Luca is recognized for his outstanding research on identifying stem cell behaviors and, together with collaborator Dr. Graziella Pellegrini, developing techniques that enable expansion and transplantation of epithelial tissue. Utilizing a groundbreaking combination of epithelial stem cell culture and retroviral mediated gene therapy, Dr. De Luca’s latest advancements resulted in extensive skin repair and most recently in total skin replacement of a young patient, curing the child of a life threatening disease. Dr. De Luca’s research provides unprecedented insight into epithelial stem cell regulation by identifying a self-renewing, long-lived population capable of regenerating the entire epidermis. His discoveries have positively affected the lives of many with debilitating and life-threatening conditions and will have significant impact on the development of therapies for wound healing and treatments for genetic diseases affecting squamous epithelia. Dr. De Luca is the recipient of the ISSCR Innovation Award, International Prize ‘‘Lombardia è ricerca”, Kazemi Award for Research Excellence in Bio-Medicine, Eurordis Black Pearl Award (2018), and ISSCR Public Service Award (2014). He is an elected member of EMBO and Accademia dei Lincei, the highest cultural institution in Italy.
Early-Career Scientist Winner
Assistant Professor of Pathology, Medicine and Dermatology
NYU School of Medicine
New York University
Dr. Shruti Naik is recognized for her work on understanding the contributions of immune cells, epithelial cells, and microbes to skin health, healing, and disease. Her research has revealed a new property of epithelial stem cells that has changed our understanding of how the skin responds to injury. Dr. Naik discovered that exposure to stressors such as injury or irritants produces an inflammatory ‘memory’ through genetic modifications to epithelial stem cells that enable them to respond more robustly to subsequent insult—a property previously thought to be restricted to cells of the immune system. This conceptually groundbreaking discovery has influenced the field’s understanding of inflammatory responses of the skin, gut, and lung and can be used to inform the development of better wound healing and cancer therapies. Dr. Naik has received numerous awards including the NIH Women’s Scholars Award, the Regeneron Award for Creative Innovation, the L’Oréal for Women in Science Award, the Damon Runyon Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists, the Sartorius and Science Prize Finalist for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy, the Tri-Institution Breakout Award and the Blavatnik Award for Junior Scientists.
In April 2019, Takeda Pharmaceuticals in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences celebrated the Winners at a medal ceremony in Tokyo, Japan. Scientific luminaries and industry leaders convened at The Peninsula Tokyo to recognize progress in regenerative medicine. To view event highlights including interviews with members of the Scientific Advisory Council and the 2019 Jury, please click here.