Catherine Bollard
"Connect, Communicate, Translate" 
Catherine Bollard,
International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT)

On 2 May 2018, you are going to kick off the International Society for Cellular Therapy 2018 Montréal Annual Meeting. What are the main goals and outcomes you hope to achieve with the meeting?
For the cell and gene therapy industry, the ISCT Annual Meeting serves as a summit where decisions are taken by the leading figures across the entire sector to define the future of the industry as it pushes past commercialization. Our Organizing Committee has performed a stellar job with planning what we envision will be one of the best meetings ever! To provide a balanced vision and worldwide expertise for the attendees, the co-chairs for the Scientific Program, David DiGiusto (Regional VP for North America), Sarah Nikiforow and Denis Claude Roy, have made amazing efforts to align the strategies for commercialization track and the associated quality and operations track with speakers from the old world and the new, and from both hemispheres. Hence, we are anticipating an outstanding conference that will not only serve to define the future of the industry, but to exchange ideas, learn about new breakthroughs, renew friendships, meet new colleagues and to have some fun!
How does the annual meeting support the association’s mission "to drive the translation of all cellular therapies for the benefit of patients worldwide"?
The diversity of our society is a great strength, and accordingly, technologists, academics, manufacturing experts, clinicians, regulators, industry members, laboratory specialists, advanced practice practitioners, pharmacists, clinical research nurses and coordinators and all others integral to bringing cell therapy from bench to bedside will be attending the meeting which is key to supporting the society's mission. Therefore, whatever one's interest in the field of cell therapy, attendees will develop new insights into the ever expanding world of cellular therapy.
What does Montréal offer as a destination for your event?
ISCT has a rich history of meetings spanning numerous regions across the globe and this meeting in Canada is no exception, illustrating our commitment to being a global society and our strong commitment to our international membership. This scientific and clinical energy will be further amplified by our location in the heart of Montréal, a vibrant, dynamic, multicultural and lively city known worldwide for its "joie de vivre"! Canada, and Montréal in particular, are perfectly aligned with the motto of the ISCT: Connect, Communicate, Translate. The cell therapy ecosystem is growing at an incredibly fast pace, and we are assembling the right people to cross-pollinate and continue that swift expansion. Montréal’s open and warm atmosphere will inspire you, allow you to find new collaborators, and ensure that you are linking with the right business partners.
How do Montréal and its community benefit from the meeting?
A particular feature of ISCT 2018 is the number of pre-conference meetings, which this year includes a Canadian Cell Therapy Strategy Workshop that will showcase the strength of cell therapy in Canada and in particular, Montréal. The discovery of transplantable stem cells was made by Canadians James Till and Ernest McCulloch, laying the foundation for the breadth and depth of clinical translation we see today. We are excited to foster the development of cell and gene therapies in the country where this research was first discovered.
Do you offer virtual attendance to those who cannot come?
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer virtual attendance, so we encourage you to sign up and join us in Montréal, if you have not done so already. Full details can be found at w w w. isct2018. com/registration. In addition, presentation slide decks from the Annual Meeting will be made available to ISCT members after the conclusion of the conference.
What are currently the main challenges for the association, as well as for the meeting?
Organizing a meeting of this magnitude with such an international presence is a massive challenge and undertaking. The Organizing Committee as well as our incredible Head Office staff have done a fantastic job leading up to our 24th annual meeting. In addition, we must also offer our enormous gratitude to our phenomenal industry partners and sponsors. Without their enduring support, this meeting would not be possible. We have an especially large number of exhibitors this year and I therefore look forward to meeting everyone in the exhibit hall and in the meeting rooms, as we welcome each and every one of you in Montréal to Connect, Communicate, and Translate!