iForum Novato


From Ideation to Implementation

iForum℠ meetings provide a unique opportunity to connect with thought leaders from academia, government, biotech, and pharma to discover new applications and innovative uses for differentiated iPS cells through interactive, data-driven presentations.

iForum Novato will be held Thursday, September 14 at the Buck Institute, Novato, CA.

A free shuttle will leave South San Francisco and transport attendees to and from the conference. 

The Buck Institute

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided on the meeting day along with a networking reception and poster session at the conclusion of the program.

During this premier stem cell event, key opinion leaders will share their insights, investigations, and future plans for utilizing iPS cells in experimental designs. Featured topics will include complex models and regenerative medicine, disease modeling and drug discovery, and predictive toxicology.

Confirmed Speakers


    • Keynote: Chad Cowan, PhD, Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
    • Mathew Blurton-Jones, PhD, Associate Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior
      School of Biological Sciences, UC- Irvine.
    • Yafei Chen, PhD, Investigative Toxicologist, Janssen Research & Development
    • James G. Evans, PhD, CEO/Founder, Phenovista Biosciences
    • Aaron Fullerton, PhD, Investigative Toxicology, Genentech
    • Corrie Gallant-Behm, PhD, Research Scientist, miRagen Therapeutics, Inc.
    • Saptarsi Haldar, MD, Associate Professor, UC San Francisco & Associate Investigator, Gladstone Institute
    • Joachim Hallmayer, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
    • Bruce Novich, PhD, Chief Business Officer, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Cellular Dynamics International Corporation, a FUJIFILM Company
    • Ruth O’Hara, PhD, Associate Chair & Professor, Dept of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University
    • Eric Shusta, PhD, Howard Curler Distinguished Professor, University of Wisconsin – Madison


9:00 am |

Breakfast, Poster Setup

A continental breakfast will be served in the atrium. Poster presenters should set up their posters in the poster room prior to 10:00 am.

10:00 am |

Welcome - Bruce Novich, Cellular Dynamics International

Bruce Novich, PhD
Executive Vice President and General Manager
Cellular Dynamics International, a FUJIFILM Company

10:15 am |

Keynote: Chad Cowan, PhD, Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

10:50 pm |

Generation and Use of iPSC-derived Microglia to Study Alzheimer's Disease
Matt Blurton-Jones, University of California, Irvine

Matt Blurton-Jones, PhD
Associate Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior
School of Biological Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA

11:15 am |

Refreshments (provided), Poster Session

Refreshments will be served in the atrium.

11:45 am |

Human iPSC-derived 2D Models for Screening Compound-induced Neuronal Excitation
Yafei Chen, Janssen Research & Development

Yafei Chen, PhD
Investigative Toxicologist
Janssen Research & Development

Abstract: Glutamate induces neuronal excitation via α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptors (AMPA-R), kainate receptors (KA-R) and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDA-R). Some neurodegenerative diseases have been associated with excessive synaptic glutamate and over-activation of AMPA-R, KA-R and/or NMDA-R as well as neuronal/glial cell death. The lack of access to human brain tissues and clinically-relevant neuronal platforms represent major gaps in research to thoroughly evaluate compound-induced glutamate signaling. The objective of this study was to assess two, novel two-dimensional (2D) induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)-derived human glutamatergic neuronal models intended for early de-risking of discovery compounds. We tested glutamate receptor agonists and antagonists and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitors in glutamatergic-enriched Glutamatergic Neuron‑Astrocyte Co-Cultures and homogeneous GlutaNeurons Cultures. Our findings offer initial evidence for the utilization of novel predictive models of neuronal excitatory toxicity.

12:10 pm |

High Content Imaging-based Phenotypic Assays as a Platform for First-in-Class Drug Discovery
James G. Evans, Phenovista Biosciences

James G. Evans, PhD
Phenovista Biosciences
San Diego, CA

Abstract: Phenovista Biosciences develops bespoke assays for the biotech and pharmaceutical community. Using automated fluorescence microscopy also known as high content screening (HCS), our Clients collaborate with us to design cutting edge assays answering specific questions across a wide range of therapeutic areas including immuno-oncology, neuronal health and metabolic diseases. Recently, we have developed a suite of neuronal assays that provide screening capabilities in high density plate formats for outputs relating to neurite outgrowth, mitochondrial health, autophagy, ER stress and synaptogenesis.

12:35 pm |

Lunch (provided), Poster Session

Lunch will be served in the atrium.

1:35 pm |

Use of iPSC-Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells for Preclinical Studies in Retinal Fibrosis
Corrie Gallant-Behm, miRagen Therapeutics Inc.

Corrie Gallant-Behm
Research Scientist
miRagen Therapeutics

Abstract: Retinal fibrosis occurs after retinal detachment or as a complication of anti-VEGF administration for treatment of vasculopathies. Retinal fibrosis is mediated by exposure of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and Muller glial cells to pro-fibrotic growth factors (TGF-b and CTGF). RPE cells undergo EMT and produce collagens and other ECM molecules, which contribute to epi- or endo-retinal membrane formation and tractional retinal detachments. miRagen Therapeutics, Inc. is focusing on the development of novel oligonucleotide drugs to prevent or treat retinal fibrosis. We have utilized iPS-derived RPE cells for investigation of RPE EMT and collagen production following growth factor exposure in vitro.

iPS-RPE cells quickly reached confluence and over 28 days in culture developed a classic RPE morphology including hexagonal cell appearance and pigment production. They remained readily transfectable throughout their growth in culture. The cellular response to TGF-b was more dynamic in nature. Treatment with TGF-b after one week in culture resulted in a 3 to 5-fold increase in expression of collagens and ECM molecules, whereas a longer time in culture reduced the cell response to TGF-b. This is consistent with literature reports that RPE cells are resistant to TGF-b stimulation when fully differentiated with tight cell-cell contacts. These results suggest that iPS-RPE cells may be utilized as a model system for preclinical studies testing new therapeutics in retinal fibrosis.

2:00 pm |

Assessing the Utility of iPSC-derived Hepatocytes for Identification of Drug-induced Liver Injury Liability in Small Molecule Drug Development
Aaron Fullerton, Genentech

Aaron Fullerton, PhD
Associate Scientist
Department of Safety Assessment
San Francisco, CA

2:25 pm |

iPSC Models of Psychiatric Disorders: Advantages and Challenges
Joachim Hallmayer and Ruth O'Hara, Stanford University

Joachim Hallmayer, MD
Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University

Ruth O'Hara, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University

2:50 pm |

Refreshments (provided), Poster Session

Refreshments will be served in the atrium.

3:20 pm |

Drugging Transcription in Heart Failure
Saptarsi Haldar, Gladstone Institutes

Saptarsi Haldar, MD
Associate Investigator
Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease
San Francisco, CA

Abstract: Heart Failure is a common and lethal condition for which new therapies are urgently needed. Our group has discovered that a subset of epigenetic signaling molecules are novel druggable targets in heart failure. Specifically, we have demonstrated that the chromatin coactivator complexes BRD4/PTEF-b and TFIIH, which are both emerging targets in cancer, are critical effectors of transcriptional anabolism during heart failure pathogenesis that can be pharmacologically targeted in vivo. In addition to studying animal models of heart failure, we have performed genomewide interrogations in human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes to demonstrate that these chromatin signaling pathways are also druggable targets in human cells. Collectively, this work suggests that heart failure and cancer have a shared “dependency” on robust transcriptional anabolism to maintain the disease state and this this process may be a novel druggable space in cardiovascular disease.

3:45 pm |

Stem Cell Modeling of the Blood-Brain Barrier
Eric Shusta, University of Wisconsin

Eric Shusta, PhD
Chemical and Biological Engineering
University of Wisconsin
Madision, WI

Abstract: The blood-brain barrier (BBB) plays an important role in maintaining brain health and is often compromised in disease. Moreover, as a result of its significant barrier properties, this endothelial interface restricts uptake of neurotherapeutics. A renewable cell source for human BBB modeling could prove enabling for brain research and pharmaceutical development. We recently demonstrated that endothelial cells generated from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can be specified to possess many BBB attributes, including well-organized tight junctions, polarized efflux transport, and nutrient transporter expression. Importantly, hPSC-derived BBB endothelial cells respond to cues provided by other cells of the neurovascular unit such as human pericytes, astrocytes and neurons to generate very tight barrier properties as measured by transendothelial electrical resistance (~5000 ohmxcm2), while exhibiting molecular permeability that correlates well with in vivo brain uptake. In this talk, we will demonstrate that the process of hPSC differentiation to BBB cells is also compatible with disease modeling using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell lines, can be used in the isogenic modeling of the neurovascular unit, and the can be employed for the evaluation of experimental drug permeability attributes.

4:10 - 6:00 pm |

Poster & Exhibits Networking

Please join us for a networking reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres and cocktails in the atrium.

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Poster Presentations

Poster Presentations

Phenotyping of Human iPSC-derived Dopaminergic Neurons Containing the Engineered A53T α-Synuclein Mutation

Sabine Lange, Kwi Hye Kim, Kile Mangan, Eugenia Jones, Sarah Dickerson, Tom Burke, Lauren Little, Lucas Chase, Brad Swanson, and Coby Carlson

Cellular Dynamics International, a FUJIFILM Company

Evaluating Networked Activity as an Integrated Assay for Seizurogenic Assessment Using Stem Cell Derived Glutamatergic Neurons

Kwi Hye Kim, Coby Carlson, Christian Kannemeier, Tromondae K Feaster, Brad Swanson, Blake D Anson and Kile Mangan

Cellular Dynamics International, a FUJIFILM Company

Modeling Liver Disease Using Human iPSC-derived Hepatocytes

Michael Hancock, Victoria Echeverria and David Mann

Cellular Dynamics International, a FUJIFILM Company

Human iPS-derived Motor Neurons Harboring TDP-43 Mutations: Applications and Possibilities

B Freitas, K.H. Kim, R. Lhanas, J. Liu, B. Meline, C. Chavez, C. McMahon, W.B. Wang, D. Mann and E. Jones

Cellular Dynamics International, a FUJIFILM Company

Disease Modeling of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Using Human iPSC-derived Cardiomyocytes

Sabine Lange, Natsuyo Aoyama, Jun Wang, Rebecca Fiene, and Coby Carlson

Cellular Dynamics International, a FUJIFILM Company


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