Graduate Student Amber Frye Inaugural Recipient of Jean Temple Award

We are pleased to announce Amber Frye as the inaugural recipient of the Jean Temple Award for Retinal Disease Research.

img_1399-1From early childhood, Amber has been fascinated with the eye, from the complex process of retinal development to the degeneration of retinal cells during disease. Her passion has led her to develop a career in retinal disease research, focusing primarily on glaucoma and age related macular degeneration (AMD). Her long term career goal is to continue to pursue this research and potential therapies. In thinking about her research focus, Amber was impacted by learning that people fear going blind more than getting cancer. Even as her own father fought cancer, he told Amber that he would still rather have cancer then go blind, which further strengthened her resolve. As there are few therapies that slow or prevent blinding diseases, this is an area of great unmet medical need, and Amber is determined to make a difference.

Through dedication to scholarship and a true passion for understanding the way biological systems work Amber is the first member of her family to go college. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2009 at Utah State University and since then has worked in several laboratories, contributing to research programs, often working full time, and taking graduate courses in Neuroscience, Molecular biology and biomedical sciences with the goal of eventually attending graduate school. For four years she worked as a researcher on retinal physiology and glaucoma at the University of Utah. Amber’s work is published in Scientific Reports and her achievement resulted in an invitation to speak at the 2012 annual Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting, an honor given to only a few select researchers. Her work on TRPV4, a molecule that helps detect intraocular pressure changes in the eye, is important not only for people who develop glaucoma, but also for individuals who suffer traumatic injury to the eye.

In 2015 Amber joined the Retinal Stem Cell Consortium at the Neural Stem Cell Institute, to help bring a novel stem cell therapy into the clinic for Age Related Macular Degeneration. Amber has proven to be a wonderful, dedicated team member who consistently performs at the highest level, and who generously gives help wherever it is needed.

In September 2016, Amber entered the Master’s degree program in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University at Albany, finally attaining her goal to enter graduate study. She is using cutting edge stem cell technology to understand how the retina develops, and to identify new ways to generate human retinal cells that could, in the future, be used for transformative therapies to prevent and reverse blindness. Amber’s passion and dedication to research, her positive and helpful attitude and generosity of spirit, and her enthusiasm to take on significant challenges, make her a most worthy recipient of the inaugural Jean Temple award for Retina Disease Research.

Jean Temple Award for Retinal Disease Research

Jean Temple was soft spoken with a gentle spirit and a wonderful sense of humor. She not only cared for her loved ones, but also her community, dedicated to her work as a nurse for over 30 years. She enjoyed the simple pleasures of life: reading, baking, gardening and visiting with friends. Her diagnosis of Age-Related Macular Degeneration was devastating to her and those who loved her. Macular degeneration takes away the ability to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, such as reading, it takes away the ability to see faces and interact with others, but most importantly, it takes away one’s independence. Jean Temple passed away at age 90 in February 2016, but her generosity, strength and spirit will be remembered through this award. As she cared for her family and community, we care for her memory by honoring a dedicated and passionate young scientist who seeks to understand and develop therapies for retinal disease.

Annual Stem Cell Soiree



The Neural Stem Cell Institute hosted the 5th Annual Stem Cell Soiree on Friday, September 30, 2016 at 90 State Street in Albany, NY.

The Master of Ceremonies was WNYT Health Reporter, Benita Zahn. Delicious food and beverages provided by the extraordinary Mazzone Catering and entertainment by The Audiostars was thoroughly enjoyed.

Please join us next year for this meaningful and exciting evening in support of our research. Hear how our ongoing scientific work could impact the lives of individuals and families in our community and all over the world who are suffering from incurable nervous system disease. Details are being arranged currently. 

If you are interested in volunteering for the 2017 Soiree Planning Committee, contact Suzanne Kawola: or 518.694.8188 x242


5th Annual Stem Cell Soiree – September 30th, 2016

Please join us for this meaningful and exciting evening in support of our research. Hear how our ongoing scientific work could impact the lives of individuals and families in our community and all over the world who are suffering from incurable nervous system disease. Stem Cell Soiree Save the Date_Online

NSCI Scientific Director Dr. Sally Temple is elected President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research

NSCI Scientific Director Dr. Sally Temple is elected President of theInternational Society for Stem Cell Research International Society for Stem Cell Research for Stem Cell Research 


RENSSELAER N.Y., July 20, 2016 –Scientific Director and Co-founder of the Neural Stem Cell Institute, Dr. Sally Temple, is now President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the preeminent organization of stem cell scientists. Dr. Temple will lead ISSCR activities and programs that promote outstanding basic, translational and clinical stem cell research.
Dr. Temple: “It is a sincere honor to have the opportunity to serve as president of ISSCR and preside over the annual meeting in Boston, 14-17th June 2017. The society is committed to promoting the highest standards in stem cell research and its application for safe and effective therapies addressing many diseases, including those for which no treatments are currently available. Stem cell research has the potential to revolutionize medicine and benefit millions of patients world-wide”.

From the ISSCR website: “The International Society for Stem Cell Research is an independent, nonprofit organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application. ISSCR has nearly 4,000 members in more than 55 countries. As an organization focused on bringing together all members of the stem cell community, we are proud that our membership is led by some of the most prominent and respected scientists from around the globe.”

About NSCI: NSCI, the first independent, non-profit stem cell research institute in the United States, is a unique research organization that produces leading stem cell science with the goal of developing novel therapies for diseases of the retina, brain and spinal cord. NSCI has a team of over 30 researchers focused on bringing impactful therapies to patients.

MEDIA CONTACT: Suzanne Kawola (518) 694-8188 x242

NSCI at ARVO: What Does it Take to Develop a Stem Cell Therapy for the Retina?

Stern_NSCITemple_NSCINSCI co-founders Dr. Sally Temple and Dr. Jeffrey Stern were recognized for their outstanding presentations at the Association for Research and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting earlier this month:

While there were seven outstanding stem-cell presentations during the summit, I want to highlight two that were particularly intriguing. 

Jeffrey Stern, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder of the Neural Stem Cell Institute (NSCI), discussed how the human retina has its own resident stem cells, which his group is working to harness as a therapy for diseases like AMD. In AMD, the disease causes degeneration of supportive cells known as retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE. When RPE are lost, the photoreceptors, the cells that make vision possible, die off as well, and central vision is lost.

Along with his wife and NSCI co-founder, Sally Temple, Ph.D., Stern is leading an effort to coax dormant stem cells in the patient’s retina to become new RPE. While it isn’t as far along as other RPE-replacement therapies, some of which are in early clinical trials, the NSCI “grow your own” approach would avoid many of the issues—including immune-system reactions, manufacturing and transplantation—associated with other stem-cell therapies. 

Read the entire review, by Ben Shaberman, entitled: What Does it Take to Develop a Stem-Cell Therapy for the Retina? here.