The Vatican Hosts Third International Regenerative Medicine Conference

Created by The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and The
Stem For Life Foundation, 3-day Event to Raise Global Awareness of the
Promise of Cellular Therapies to Treat Disease and Reduce Global

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and The Stem For Life
Foundation (a subsidiary of the Cura Foundation) today announced the
beginning of its historic three-day event, The Third
International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and
Its Cultural Impact
, taking place from within The Vatican, April
28-30, 2016. This event looks at the complex cultural and social
framework of illnesses and the dynamic of cell therapy solutions for

This event, titled Cellular Horizons: How Science, Technology,
Information and Communication will Impact Society
, is a continuation
of a seven-year collaboration between The Stem For Life Foundation, a
not-for-profit organization devoted to advancing global awareness of
regenerative medicine and cell therapy, The Vatican’s Pontifical Council
for Culture, and STOQ (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest)
Foundation. Featuring the personal involvement of Pope Francis, who will
meet with attendees in a scheduled private audience, this year’s event
will have a unique focus on cancer therapy and rare diseases in
marginalized populations, pediatric diseases, as well as those that
occur with aging.

“Whether immunotherapies for cancer or stem cell treatments for rare
diseases, there are now over 30,000 cell therapy trials in development
noted on the website,” said Dr. Robin Smith,
President of The Stem For Life Foundation. “This event will rally the
world around a powerful idea ─ that the cells of our bodies hold the
potential to vanquish disease, reduce global suffering and inspire hope
for people around the world living with illness.”

The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, His Eminence
Cardinal Ravasi, said:

“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we would like to challenge all of
society to search for the cures to human illness. The advancement of
regenerative medicine holds great promise for the future, and together,
we must bring these vital cellular therapies to the hundreds of millions
of people suffering from disease around the world, especially those from
under-served and developing nations. With this event, we sound a clarion
call to humanity that tomorrow’s cures can be found today in the human
body, and that we have an obligation to bring these cellular therapies
out of the clinic and into the real world.”

The goals of the 2016 Third International Conference on the Progress
of Regenerative Medicine and Its Cultural Impact
are to “unite
people in the cellular revolution, without prejudice, creating an open
dialogue about the interconnections among cellular research, technology,
faith and culture,” said Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, Head of the Science
and Faith Department, The Pontifical Council for Culture. Additional
goals of this year’s event include:

  • Discussing and understanding the importance of scientific
    advancements, technology and data in the paradigm shift toward
    regenerative medicine, with a particular focus on cellular therapies.
  • Fostering an international conversation amongst researchers,
    physicians, philanthropists, faith leaders and policy makers in order
    to help identify a pathway to bring cellular cures to those in medical
    need throughout the world to reduce human suffering.
  • Creating global awareness and inspiring the next generation about the
    vital linkages between cellular sciences, technological innovation and
    personalized treatment delivery.
  • Catalyzing the necessary funding to support the development of cell
    therapies that will cure and treat a broad range of debilitating
    diseases and medical conditions.
  • Establishing a global movement of cellular researchers, medical
    practitioners, technological innovators and cultural and religious
    thought leaders throughout the world devoted to advancing the paradigm
    shift toward regenerative medicine.

The conference will be moderated by renowned journalists. Highlights
will include:

  • A panel discussion on cancer immunotherapy featuring leading
    immunotherapy doctors, including Dr. James P. Allison, Professor and
    Chair of Immunology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University
    of Texas; Dr. Carl H. June, Richard W. Vague Professor in
    Immunotherapy and Director, Translational Research Program at the
    Abramson Cancer Center, Perelman School of Medicine at the University
    of Pennsylvania; Dr. Tak W. Mak, Senior Scientist at the Princess
    Margaret Hospital at the Ontario Cancer Institute; and Dr. Jedd D.
    Wolchok, Chief, Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service and Lloyd J.
    Old Chair for Clinical Investigation at the Memorial Sloan Kettering
    Cancer Center.
  • An in-depth look at the Parker Institute with Sean Parker, President
    of the Parker Foundation and Founder of the Parker Institute.
  • A panel of philanthropists discussing why they fund cell therapy
    research and how they decide what to support, featuring Dr. W.E.
    Bosarge, President Bosarge Family Foundation; Sean Parker, President
    of the Parker Foundation; and T. Denny Sanford, Chairman and Chief
    Executive Officer of the United National Corporation and Health Care
    Philanthropist (with Kelby K. Krabbenhoft, Sanford Health President
    and Chief Executive Officer).
  • A panel discussion on how close we are to creating a vaccine to treat
    cancer with Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong
    Family Foundation, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Chan
    Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine, and Chairman and Chief
    Executive Officer of NantKwest.
  • A panel discussion on gene and stem cell therapy approaches to treat
    rare diseases, moderated by Stephen C. Groft, Senior Advisor to the
    Director at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
    at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and featuring Dr. William
    W. Hauswirth, Rybaczkl-Bullard Professor of Ophthalmology at the
    College of Medicine at the University of Florida; Dr. Sven Kili, Vice
    President and Head of Gene Therapy Development at GSK; Dr. Joanne
    Kurtzberg, Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Medical Officer of the
    Robertson Clinical and Translational Cell Therapy Program, Director of
    the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank and Director of the Pediatric Blood and
    Marrow Transplant Program at the Duke University Medical Center; Dr.
    David A. Pearce, President of Sanford Research at Sanford Health,
    Senior Scientist at the Children’s Health Research Center at Sanford
    Research, and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Sanford
    School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota; Dr. Jakub Tolar,
    Professor and Director at the Stem Cell Institute at the University of
    Minnesota; and Dr. Jill M. Weimer, Director and Scientist at the
    Children’s Health Research Center at Sanford Research, and Associate
    Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Sanford School of
    Medicine at the University of South Dakota
  • A keynote speech on cancer moonshots by Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice
    President of the United States.
  • A conversation examining the regulatory environment in multiple
    countries – including Japan, Europe and the United States – with
    respect to cell therapy development and availability to patients,
    moderated by The Honorable Tommy Thompson, 42nd Governor of
    Wisconsin and former HHS Secretary, and featuring Dr. W.E. Bosarge,
    American businessman, entrepreneur, scientist, mathematician and
    philanthropist; Dr. Andrew C. von Echenbach, Former Commissioner of
    the U.S. FDA and 12th Director of the National Cancer
    Institute at the National Institutes of Health, USA; The Honorable
    William H. Frist, MD, American physician, businessman, politician,
    former U.S. Senator from Tennessee and former U.S. Senate Majority
    Leader; Dr. Tatsuya Kondo, Chief Executive of Japan’s Pharmaceuticals
    and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA); and Guido Rasi, Executive Director
    of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
  • A panel discussion examining unique approaches to Type 1 Diabetes
    research and funding, moderated by Henry Anhalt, Chief Medical Officer
    of T1D Exchange, and featuring Dr. Jeffrey A. Bluestone, Executive
    Vice Chancellor and Provost of the University of California, San
    Francisco; Dr. Douglas W. Losordo, Senior Vice President of Clinical,
    Medical and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Medical Officer of Caladrius
    Biosciences; Dr. Douglas A. Melton, Co-Director of Stem Cell Institute
    and Co-Chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
    at Harvard University; Dr. David Pearce, President of Sanford Research
    at Sanford Health, Senior Scientist at the Children’s Health Research
    Center at Sanford Research, and Professor in the Department of
    Pediatrics at the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of
    South Dakota; and Dr. Yong Zhao, Associate Scientist at Hackensack
    University Medical Center.
  • A conversation on ethical challenges that comes with the cellular
    revolution, featuring Rev. Fr. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco,
    Associate Professor of Biology and Theology at Providence College; and
    Dr. Gregory Stock, Professor in the Department of Genetics and Genomic
    Sciences and Co-Director of the Harris Center for Precision Wellness
    at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, and author of
    “Redesigning Humans.”
  • A look at how technology and big data will usher in a new paradigm in
    drug discovery and healthcare delivery, featuring Dr. Lynda Chin,
    Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Transformation and Chief
    Innovation Officer for Health Affairs at the University of Texas;
    Robert H. High Jr., IBM Fellow, Vice President and Chief Technology
    Officer at IBM Watson; and Dr. Krishnan “Nandu” Nandabalan, President
    and Chief Science Officer at BioXcel Corporation.
  • New innovation in pediatric cancer using T-cell therapy for acute
    lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), featuring a patient family and their
    doctor, Dr. Susan Rheingold, Outpatient Medical Director, Division of
    Oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Associate
    Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of
  • A look at who is paying for miracles, featuring Dana Ball, Chief
    Executive Officer of Unitio and Co-Founder and Executive Director of
    T1DX; Dr. C. Randal Mills, President of California’s Stem Cell Agency
    (CIRM); David Panzirer, Trustee of The Helmsley Trust; and Derek Rapp,
    President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF.
  • A panel discussion on healthy aging featuring Dr. Nir Barzilai,
    Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein
    College of Medicine, and Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the
    Biology of Human Aging Research and of the National Institutes of
    Health’s (NIH) Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology
    of Aging; Dr. Ronald DePinho, President of the University of Texas MD
    Anderson Cancer Center; Dr. Robert Hariri, Co-Founder and President of
    Human Longevity Cellular Therapeutics; and Dr. Pranela Rameshwar,
    Professor in the Department of Medicine, Hematology – Oncology at
    Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School.

Major support also comes from philanthropists who believe in the promise
of cellular therapies, including the Bosarge Family Foundation, the
Parker Foundation and Sanford Health. Sponsors and benefactors include
Aegis Capital Corp.; AGTC; Andrew S. Bluestone; Aspire Capital; the
Catholic Association Foundation; Cedi Economics; Coffee of Grace; David
M. Richwhite; Fondazione Internazionale D’Amato Onlus; Foundation
Medicine; Gabriella’s Kitchen; Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation;
Hackensack University Health Network; JDRF; John and Mary Pappajohn;
Karen and David Haug; Maxim Group; Mesoblast; the Norma and Gordon Smith
Family Foundation; Organova; Pfizer Oncology; PiperJaffray; Provectus
Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.; RSJ; Susan Scott Foundation; and Sternaegis

An array of patients with inspiring stories, who have received cellular
therapies or have unique stories to share, are available for media
interviews, including:

  • Nicholas Wilkins, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
    (ALL) at the age of 4 and later received a T-cell therapy at The
    Children’s Hospital Of Pennsylvania.
  • Elena Simon, who was diagnosed with fibrolamellar hepatocellular
    carcinoma at the age of 12 and later sequenced her own tumor.
  • Eugene Gasana Jr., who was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
    at the age of 13 and inspired the creation of a new children’s cancer
    treatment hospital in Rwanda.

To learn more about The Third International Conference on the
Progress of Regenerative Medicine and Its Cultural Impact
, please
Follow us on Twitter @StemForLife and join in the conversation with

The Cura Foundation is a 501(c)(3) global charitable organization
dedicated to the advancement of cellular therapies and technologies that
improve human health, increase quality of life and enhance patient care.
Through its programs and initiatives, The Cura Foundation seeks to
catalyze the funding of the advancement of a wide array of cellular
therapies, whether immunotherapies, adult stem cell treatments, gene
therapies, technology or emerging cell-based therapies that enhance
cellular health and longevity.

The Stem For Life Foundation (SFLF) is the educational and
advocacy subsidiary of The Cura Foundation and is devoted to fostering
global awareness of the potential for regenerative medicine to treat and
cure a range of deadly diseases and debilitating medical conditions, as
opposed to merely treating their symptoms. The Foundation stands at the
forefront of a fundamental shift away from traditional drug treatment in
favor of amplifying the body’s natural repair mechanisms to vanquish
disease. For more information on The Stem For Life Foundation, please

The Science and Faith Foundation – “STOQ” is a
Foundation under Vatican law promoted by the Pontifical Council for
Culture. The identity and mission of the Foundation have their main
Magisterial references in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et
, in the talks of St John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the
relations between science and faith, particularly in the Encyclical Fides
et ratio
. The Foundation aims to give continuity to the activities
of Project STOQ, which emerged from the collaboration between the
Pontifical Council for Culture and Pontifical Roman Universities
following the Galileo Commission and the Jubilee of Scientists in the
year 2000. Among the aims of the Foundation are research and study of
the themes of dialogue between science, philosophy and theology;
realisation of conferences and other activities of high cultural and
scientific value, even at the popular level; publication of works of
merit on the main arguments of the science-faith dialogue.

The Pontifical Council for Culture traces its origins to the
Second Vatican Council and its opening up to that great, dynamic,
worried and multiform world of contemporary culture. In its Pastoral
Constitution Gaudium et spes, the Council Fathers expressed the need for
the Church to continually place itself before the needs of the cultures
of the world. It was a new period of history where a new humanism was
arising, and the Church, faithful to its own traditions, was aware of
the universality of its mission, entering into communion with the
different forms of culture, a communion that would enrich the Church as
much as the cultures. The Pontifical Council for Culture is committed to
the dialogue with many realities in their relation to culture and faith
such Art, Music, Cultural Goods, Cultures in the World, Mysticism,
Atheism, Economics, Language & Communication, International Cultural
Bodies, Sport and Science.

The Science and Faith Department is the vehicle of the
Pontifical Council for Culture’s engagement with contemporary science.
This commitment is based on the firm belief that between science and
faith not only is there no opposition, but there should also be
beneficial serene dialogue. The Christian faith when properly understood
is a creator of culture and an inspiring source of science. For this
reason, the Department of Science and Faith seeks further understanding
of the phenomena of scientific and technological development and their
possible influence on theological and philosophical thought to achieve
the following objectives:

  1. Elaborate a cultural analysis of the development of natural sciences,
    enquiring after its impact on theological and philosophical
    reflection, and on the cultural and social dynamics over the short and
    long term;
  2. Promote reciprocal cooperation in the sphere of the dialogue of
    science and faith with the various institutions beginning with other
    Dicasteries and bodies of the Holy See, also international Catholic
    organizations, ecclesial and secular institutions, universities and
    research institutes throughout the world, making common projects and
    sustaining initiatives of scientific research and cultural discovery;
  3. Encourage a greater commitment for the ideal of dialogue between
    science and faith, and promote critical reflection on the frontier
    themes in the area of interdisciplinary research for a renewed
    anthropology, and for ethics, theology and philosophy of nature;
  4. Offer collaboration as a service to Episcopal Conferences and their
    bodies on themes relating to science and faith; and
  5. Promote initiatives to spread awareness through public conferences,
    congresses and study days, as well as publishing books and educational
    volumes to support the Church in its pastoral and educational tasks.

For more information on The Pontifical Council for Culture, please visit


The Vatican
Pontifical Council for Culture
Msgr. Tomasz Trafny
Vatican City
The Stem For Life Foundation
Robin Smith,
MD, +1-212-584-4176
Burns, +1-917-817-1225
Senior Vice President, Media Relations