Prestigious international stem cell award (ISSCR) is granted to Belgian Dr. Cédric Blanpain (FNRS-ULB/WELBIO).

The ISSCR (International Society of Stem Cell Research), an organization bringing together top specialists worldwide, has named Dr. Cédric Blanpain as the recipient of the fourth annual ISSCR-University of Pittsburgh Outstanding Young Investigator Award. For the first time, this award has been granted to a young researcher in Europe. 

The award recognizes an investigator’s exceptional achievements in stem cell research in the early stage of his or her independent career.

Where did the story behind this wonderful achievement all begin? Dr. Blanpain, a tenure researcher of the Belgian FNRS and investigator for WELBIO (ULB, Belgium), began his stem cell research during a postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Fuchs, (Rockefeller University, New York, USA) where he demonstrated the multipotency of hair follicle stem cells and the role of specific pathways in the regulation of stem cells of the skin.

In late 2006 Dr. Blanpain returned to Belgium where he developed a research group focusing on the role of stem cells, more specifically, on understanding the mechanism regulating stem cell fate decision during embryonic development and tissue homeostasis as well as the implication of stem cell during cancer development.

Since then, Dr. Blanpain and his team have made many incredible discoveries involving the role and develoment of stems cells. Among these findings incude: discovering a key regulator (MESP1) in the generation of cardiovascular stem cells and methods of isolating them during differention, how adult stem cells of the skin sense and respond to DNA damage, finding that touch cells (Merkel cells) develop from stem cells of the skin rather than neuronal cells, discovering the presence of new stem cell populations in the mammary gland, discovery of the cellular origin of the most common skin cancers, as well as identifying a new role of vascular endothelial growth factor(VEGF) in the regulation of cancer stem cells.

One can see why Dr. Blanpain and his team, at ULB, composed of thirty researchers, have so deservedly been recognized for their dedicated time and research of stem cells during development and how they can relate to the onset and relapse of cancer.

His research has received continued support and funding from the Belgian organizations; FNRS, TÉLÉVIE, the Program d’excellence CIBLES (Walloon Region), WELBIO, the Fondation Contre Cancer, the fondation ULB and the Fond Gaston Ithier. In addition, The “European Research Council” (ERC) and the “EMBO Young Investigator” program support and fund his research.

To honor Dr. Blanpain, an award ceremony was held this past June in Yokohama, Japan at the ISSCR annual meeting where during the Plenary Session he was able to present his work.
Congratulations to Dr. Blanpain and his team for being selected for this highly prestigious international award. Keep up the good work!



Cédric Blanpain, MD, PhD

IRIBHM, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Bureau : +32-2-555 41 75 – Laboratory : +32-2- 555 4190


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