Guest Lecture: Evan Y. Snyder, MD, PhD, FAAP
“The multifaceted translational value of stem cell biology: disease “treater” vs. disease “unraveller””
November 27, 2023
The field of stem cell biology has evolved over the 4 decades since its inception. Stem cells have always been viewed as components of fundamental developmental programs. However, our ability to harness that biology for therapeutic utility has grown beyond the strategy of implanting them and their derivatives into organs in need of repair (although sophistication and refinement in that regard has also increased significantly as well as its limitations). We now recognize that stem cells can also be used to model patient-specific “diseases-in-a-dish” to understand pathogenic molecular mechanisms, identify drug targets that might temper such pathophysiology, and even select drugs against those targets. In this latter use, it is not the cell that goes into the patient, but rather the drug or gene discovered via the cell that goes into the patient. In this lecture, I will give two examples of the use of neural stem cells (NSCs) in each of these categories. In the first, NSC derivatives will be used to understand the molecular basis of a psychiatric condition (bipolar disorder) which has mechanistic and pharmacotherapeutic implications for other neurological maladies (particularly cognitive disorders) more broadly. In the second example, I will describe the direct use of NSCs for neuroprotection of the newborn brain at risk for permanent neurological disability following hypoxic-ischemic injury. At the conclusion of the lecture, I will attempt to demonstrate that insights from the two examples can inform each other.
Evan Y. Snyder earned his M.D. and Ph.D. (in neuroscience) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1980 as a member of NIH’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). He had also studied psychology and linguistics at the University of Oxford. After moving to Boston in 1980, he completed residencies in pediatrics and neurology as well as a clinical fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Children’s Hospital-Boston, Harvard Medical School. He also served as Chief Resident in Medicine (1984-1985) and Chief Resident in Neurology (1987) at Children’s Hospital-Boston. In 1989, he became an attending physician in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of Newborn Medicine) and Department of Neurology at Children’s Hospital-Boston, Harvard Medical School. From 1985-1991, concurrent with his clinical activities, he conducted postdoctoral research as a fellow in the Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School. In 1992, Dr. Snyder was appointed an instructor in neurology (neonatology) at Harvard Medical School and was promoted to assistant professor in 1996. He maintained lab spaces in both Children’s Hospital-Boston and at Harvard Institutes of Medicine/Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In 2003, Dr. Snyder was recruited to Sanford Burnham Prebys as Professor and Director of the Program in Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. He then inaugurated the Stem Cell Research Center (serving as its founding director) and initiated the Southern California Stem Cell Consortium. Dr. Snyder is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP). He also received training in Philosophy and Linguistics at Oxford University.