Sheng Ding of the J. David Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco has been making a name for himself in stem cell circles. Now he’s being recognized in the business community, earning a place on the San Francisco Business Times’ 2012 40 under 40 roster. Ding has a New Faculty Award and a New Cell Lines Award from CIRM.
He joins CEOs, founders and senior executives of such companies as Solar City, Yammer, and Stella & Dot, as well as a Tony winning producer and other leaders. In their story about the group, the San Francisco Business Times wrote:
For the first time, the Business Times is honoring standout leaders under 40 years old making a major impact on the Bay Area’s economy, community and culture by employing innovation, business and technical acumen and a lot of hard work. If, after learning more about these under-40 wizards, you start to feel badly about yourself, trust that you are not alone.
Ding earned his place in the line-up through his work directly converting one type of cell into another. This work, called direct transformation, has been receiving a lot of attention in the past two years because of the possibility of one day converting cells within the body to another cell type as a way of repairing damage.
We’ve blogged about Ding’s work converting skin cells into beating heart cells while he was at Scripps Research Institute and then later converting skin to neural stem cells. Both of these experiments were in mice, and so are not yet primed for human therapies. However, his work is part of a growing trend that includes some recent work carrying out similar cellular fate-changes using human cells.
The fact that this CIRM-funded work was recognized as driving the bay area’s economy is a nod to the importance of the biotechnology industry in the area, and to the importance of basic research such as Ding’s in fueling the growth of those companies.