Joanna Wysocka given 2022 ISSCR Momentum Award

Feb.1, 2022

Joanna Wysocka is being given International Society of Stem Cell Research’s 2022 Momentum Award

Institute member Joanna Wysocka, PhD, has been given the 2022 Momentum Award by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).  The ISSCR says that “the prize recognizes the exceptional achievements of an investigator whose innovative research has established a major area of stem cell-related research with a strong trajectory for future success.”

“I am deeply honored to receive the 2022 ISSCR Momentum Award," said Wysocka. “I am grateful to have our research contributions recognized by my peers in the ISSCR, which is at the forefront of innovative and rigorous stem cell science. 

“I am thankful for the talented and dedicated colleagues who have embarked on their scientific journeys with me and for the amazing research environment at Stanford," Wysocka added. “The award motivates me to work harder, and hopefully our best is yet to come.”

Wysocka’s research is has had significant impact in understanding how gene expression is controlled as cell fate takes shape in a developing embryo. She discovered a protein that keeps key genes in the early embryo silent but poised for action when they are needed. She and her colleagues discovered that the modification of a collection of DNA sequences called "enhancers" can dial up or down the activity of the genes in the neural crest, thereby governing which cells eventually become the face. She worked with institute member Vittorio Sebastiano, PhD, to show that in early embryo development, ancient retroviral genes are activated to guide development, and then silenced. Recently, she and her colleagues documented 70 genes that control variationin the development of both face and brain structure.

Wysocka will be recognized and will present her research during Plenary VI: Technologies That Model and Direct Emergent Cell Behaviors in Stem Cell Biology and Regeneration, on 18 June beginning at 12:45 pm Pacific Time during ISSCR 2022 San Francisco + Virtual.

“Joanna Wysocka is an outstanding mid-career investigator who has an established record of innovation and impact,” said Melissa Little, ISSCR President. “Her exceptional achievements were recognized early in her career with the 2010 Outstanding Young Investigator Award, and it has been inspiring to follow her career and contributions to the field. Congratulations Joanna on this prestigious and well-deserved honor.” 

Wysocka is the Lorry Lokey Professor and a Professor of Developmental Biology in the School of Medicine, as well as an HHMI investigator.