Fernando Camargo, Ph.D., has been named as the inaugural Regenerative Biology Endowed Chair by the Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) Department of Pediatrics, in recognition of his pioneering scientific contributions and outstanding leadership. Camargo is a professor in the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Pediatrics. He is also a principal investigator in the BCH Stem Cell Program and a principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI).
“I feel incredibly privileged to have undertaken my scientific journey at the Stem Cell Program at BCH. I cannot think of a more exceptional and supportive scientific environment,” Camargo said. “I am especially thankful to Dr. Len Zon and the hospital leadership for their unparalleled guidance and commitment to support young scientists. Our work would not have been possible without my wonderful current and former lab members and our outstanding scientific collaborators.”
“Fernando’s pioneering contributions in tracing clonal dynamics and regenerative activity of tissue stem cells and his exceptional leadership in our field truly set him apart as a uniquely accomplished and impactful scientist,” said Amy Wagers, Ph.D., the Co-Chair of HSCRB and the Forst Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard. She is also an Executive Committee member at HSCI.
“Fernando’s work has been the most pioneering research studying stem cell clones. It will have an impact on blood diseases and cancer,” said Leonard Zon, M.D., who is the Director of the Stem Cell Program, a professor in HSCRB, and the Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics at HMS. He is also the Executive Committee Chair at HSCI.
Camargo completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona and received a Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 2004, studying the developmental plasticity of adult somatic stem cells in the laboratory of Margaret Goodell. He then became a Whitehead Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where he directed a laboratory focused on the regulation of stem cell proliferation and differentiation and the mechanisms that control tissue size in mammals. He joined HSCRB and BCH in 2009 and has been a fully tenured professor since 2016.
Camargo has had a long-standing interest in deciphering the mechanisms that control mammalian tissue growth. His lab has made seminal contributions to the discovery and understanding of the Hippo signaling pathway. Hippo is a biochemical cascade that controls the development of our organs, and his work has discovered important mechanisms by which tissues control their number of cells. Camargo’s work has influenced the development Hippo pathway components as novel therapeutic targets in a wide range of epithelial malignancies. Pharmacological agents that act on the Hippo pathway, some generated in his group, are undergoing pre-clinical testing for cancer therapy.
Camargo’s innovative and groundbreaking work has also influenced the field of stem cell biology at large. His group has developed technologies that enable cellular barcoding, a technique that genetically tags and traces of thousands of cells at a time, giving an unprecedented measure of cellular histories at single-cell resolution. Using these tools, his lab has defined novel biological properties of blood stem cells, rewriting the textbook knowledge of lineages and fates in the blood. These discoveries include novel cellular sources of platelet and lymphoid production within the bone marrow, key regulators of the blood stem cell state, and the novel bone marrow micro-niches that control stem cell activity. These discoveries have important implications for treatments that can improve the safety and efficiency of bone marrow transplants.
Camargo was the first underrepresented minority professor in the Stem Cell Program. He has been fully committed to recruiting and training minority scientists at the research assistant, undergraduate and postdoc levels. He has had more than seven underrepresented minority scientists train in his group. He frequently gives talks and participates in panels focusing on minority representation in the sciences. His lab also participates in summer programs aimed at hosting minority students.
Because of his continuous record of innovation and scientific discovery, Camargo has received multiple scientific honors. In addition to receiving the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, he was named a Pew Fellow in the Biomedical Sciences and a special fellow by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Most recently, he received the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science and the International Society of Stem Cell Research’s Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator, and named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar.
This story is adapted from an announcement by the BCH Stem Cell Program.