News Hub

Compose, Encode, Transmit, Receive, Decode, Interpret = Communication


Telegraft Hub - From the President’s Desk February 2022

Bruce Levine PhD
President, ISCT
United States

Compose, Encode, Transmit, Receive, Decode, Interpret = Communication

One of the most prominent hills in San Francisco is Telegraph Hill, which provides an interesting lesson in the history of communication.  You see, the namesake telegraph referred to is not what you might be thinking, but an optical telegraph. Think of a pole with arms that could be raised and lowered to signal what type of ship was entering San Francisco Bay, similar to a semaphore code. In 1853, an electric telegraph extending to a point 8 miles (12.9 km) away was installed.  That was progress in communication. Today an observation tower sits atop the hill, giving 360 degree views of the Bay Area, and instant messages of various flavors circulate through the ether in milliseconds. 

Our ISCT Telegraft is a play on the word “telegraph”. Now, the Telegraft is evolving.  From first a printed copy arriving by snail mail to email to as easy as loading a webpage, providing our members with all key news and information, ISCT is rolling out a new Telegraft with an updated name - Telegraft Hubto move to a new mode of communication with our members.

With each of the modes of ISCT communication and interactions to foster cell and gene therapy translation, the unit operations are similar: Compose, Encode, Transmit, Receive, Decode, Interpret. But where, you might ask, is the master index, the almanac, the register, the chronicle of ISCT?  Why, that would be the ISCT Annual Report.  Whether you are a new member or a longtime member, I guarantee you will be amazed at the global reach and contributions of ISCT throughout the cell and gene therapy translational spectrum. At each box or circle highlighting an initiative click to explore the details.  The vital stats are there on our three pillars where you can click on any of the Translational Science, Regulatory and Quality Operations, and Commercialization icons and dive deep into initiatives and resources for each.

The Annual Report details how ISCT is advancing translational science through our work with the World Health Organization on nomenclature, another step in what is becoming a closer relationship between the WHO and ISCT.  We are building global educational partnerships with the Andalusian Network for the Design & Translation of Advanced Therapies (ANd&tAT) to create an online education program for ISCT members based on core topics from the Master in Manufacturing of ATMPs at the University of Granada/ANd&tAT.  The ISCT Europe Master in Manufacturing of Advanced Therapy Medicine Products (ATMPs) Scholarship Programme has provided scholarships for ISCT Europe Members.  ISCT is addressing critical workforce needs in a global partnership with the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT) to deliver a critical program developed by field experts across academic, regulatory, clinical, and commercial domains.  Scroll down further in the Annual Report to see updates from regional leaders, more on our global partnerships, recognition of ISCT champions, Cytotherapy, Telegraft, and more and more and more.  Do you have ideas for educational initiatives that ISCT may pursue?  Would you like to volunteer to teach or to contribute to any one of our educational activities, webinars, or planning for more in the future?  Let us know of your interest by contacting the ISCT Head Office, and you can also see our Volunteer Center for information on how to apply to any of our >40 standing committees.

RU 😊 2B F2F IRL?  Did you decode what I encoded?  The original mode of communication, the most personal is face to face. At the end of January, I attended my second in person meeting since the pandemic began and had the pleasure of seeing ISCT Global Secretary Lizette Caballero. It’s great to be with people in 3D! We are so looking forward to meeting all together in person in San Francisco.  This will be a milestone Annual Meeting celebrating the 30th Anniversary of ISCT.  In that spirit, we have something new for the meeting, a series of 30 Roundtables to discuss, debate, and problem solve.  All are curated to confront the most topical issues facing the CGT sector today through highly interactive focus group discussions to tackle controversial topics, issues and find solutions for the biggest challenges facing the translation of cell and gene therapies.  As these are being announced as I am writing this column, I am getting more excited about the global gathering of world experts to convene Wednesday morning May 4th, when the Roundtables begin.  A very small sampling:

  • Potency Assays: Why, When and What If? How to bridge clinical data and remove variability, assess alternate applications of potency assays during development and manufacturing
  • Expanded Access and Hospital Exemption: Understanding Investigational Treatment Pathways What are the limitations of these pathways? What are the considerations for risk vs. benefit assessments?
  • COVID-19 Effects on Critical Supply Shortages: Strategies to Adapt- Are methods used to mitigate delays sustainable in the long-term? How have suppliers and manufacturers dealt with these shortages and what challenges remain?
  • CGT Workforce Development: Digging into the Problems and Root Causes of the Workforce Shortage Crisis Exploring the problems and cross-sector impact faced by a shortage of a competent, trained, and skilled workforce as the CGT field tries to keep up with its exponential growth


And that is only a small part of one element of the Annual Meeting.  Several hundred abstracts have been selected for presentation in the first wave.  In recognition of pandemic disruptions, and to be as inclusive as possible for delegates for this year only, at ISCT 2022 San Francisco the late breaking abstract policy will be waived to provide you a second chance to submit abstracts. The Plenary and Concurrent sessions have been announced, the Exhibition and Sponsorship opportunities are filling up, networking sessions will be plentiful both scheduled and spontaneous throughout the meeting. 

The ISCT Society Day taking place on May 7 will be an opportunity for members and attendees to take part in specialized training and educational opportunities, such as Cellular Therapy Processing Inspector Training Workshop hosted by FACT.  The day will also be a chance for ISCT standing committees to meet in person after two years of virtual conferences! To be announced in the coming weeks, a full-day event tailored to laboratory technicians, a Cytotherapy workshop on academic writing for ESPs, and an event on native and engineered human extracellular vesicles... stay tuned! From “Bench to Bedside to Benefit”, we create value for patients through CGT translational science.

What will cell and gene therapy look like in 2052?

How will we transmit and receive cell and gene therapy knowledge in 30 years?