The New York Stem Cell Foundation: Leveraging Stem Cell Technologies to Advance Disease Treatments, Regenerative Medicine and Bioengineering

Embryonic stem cells colony under a microscope.

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Location: EAS 330

Speaker: Dr. Rick Monsma, Senior Vice President, Scientific Operations, New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute, New York, NY


The advent of embryonic (ESC) and induced pluripotent (iPSC) stem cell technologies has begun to revolutionize our understanding of intractable diseases, creating opportunities for disease-modifying treatments and even cures. From the development of human, patient-specific in vitro disease models, to the possibility of "clinical trials in a dish", to the ability to directly replace diseased cells in human patients, stem cells are opening a new era of therapeutic innovation. Founded just when ESC and iPSC technologies emerged, the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute has been at the leading edge of applying stem cells to accelerate treatments and cures for the major diseases of our time. Using scalable, automated systems, NYSCF has established robust, reproducible, high-throughput cell reprogramming methods to create large cohorts of patient-derived iPSCs for use in a variety of disease research programs. In addition to providing these diverse iPSCs as a community resource to fuel research throughout the field, we have pioneered protocols to differentiate iPSCs into disease-relevant cell types and organoids, enabling population-scale studies of neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism spectrum disorder, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetes. This population-scale approach is enabling investigations of disease heterogeneity across patients with relevance to precision medicine. Finally, we recently built a specialized facility in which to generate clinical-grade iPSCs for use in cell replacement therapies, and are progressing towards a clinical trial for replacement of retinal pigmented epithelial cells to restore vision in AMD patients. Through our integration of cutting-edge stem cell technologies with robotics, high-content imaging, genomics, and artificial intelligence, we aim to catalyze progress in disease research and treatment that will improve outcomes for millions of patients with unmet needs.


Rick Monsma

Rick Monsma is the Senior Vice President of Scientific Operations at the NYSCF Research Institute, and a molecular pharmacologist with extensive experience in cellular assay development to advance drug discovery. During his 20+ years of leadership in the pharmaceutical industry, he has managed a variety of teams and projects supporting all stages of preclinical drug discovery, including many efforts in neurological diseases. Dr. Monsma's research has made critical advancements in the identification, sequencing, and characterization of G-protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), which are a large family of proteins representing the largest class of targets for FDA-approved drugs. Since joining the NYSCF Research Institute in 2017, he has managed the laboratories and daily operations, including strategic guidance for internal and collaborative research programs.