15 May 2020

The LEO Foundation is excited to reveal the winner of the 2020 LEO Foundation Award for Region AmericasDr. Ya-Chieh Hsu from Harvard University.

Ya-Chieh Hsu is the Alvin and Esta Star Associate Professor at the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. She receives USD 100,000 in recognition of her research achievements in studying cell-cell interactions and how systemic changes in the body influence these interactions in the skin.

“It is such an honor to receive this recognition,” says a happy Ya-Chieh Hsu.

“It feels particularly special and encouraging for our lab during this COVID-19 stay-at-home period, when such good news comes your way. With this LEO Foundation Award, we can now pursue important projects that I believe will be transformative, when it is safe for the lab to re-open. I can’t wait for that! Thank you, LEO Foundation, for such a special award!”

The beauty and power of skin biology

Ya-Chieh Hsu and her team have been studying the skin, which is composed of many cell types – different stem cells, nerves, fibroblasts, and immune cells. Together, they protect us from insults and infection, and endow us with a remarkable ability to sense and respond to this world.

The Hsu lab aims to understand how communication among these cell types build a functional skin, how miscommunication occurs under stress and in cancer, and how to rebuild this cellular diversity after injury.

A very special awardee

Ya-Chieh Hsu had her B.Sc. in Life Sciences in 2002 at the National Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan. In 2008 she got her PhD in Developmental Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, USA.

Until 2014, Ya-Chieh Hsu was Postdoctoral Fellow at The Rockefeller University in New York with Professor Elaine Fuchs as her mentor. Elaine Fuchs says there are three words that best describe Ya-Chieh Hsu’ s work: “Creativity, innovation, and rigor.”

High praise from the review panel

Also the LEO Foundation Global Review Panel was excited about this year’s Region Americas Awardee, and said among other things:

“Following a terrific record of accomplishment as a postdoctoral fellow, Ya-Chieh Hsu has developed into an impressive independent investigator.”

“Outstanding work throughout her entire trajectory, extremely original and impactful.”

“Hsu is an exceptionally creative young scientist.”

“Ya-Chieh Hsu is a super-star who has published seminal papers in the highest impact journals at all phases of her career and continues to do so now.”

About the LEO Foundation Award

The award is given to outstanding young scientists from around the world, whose work advance our understanding of the skin and its diseases and have the potential to pave the way for new and improved treatments.

The award is given three times annually – one in each of the three regions: Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific. It is worth USD 100,000.

All awardees will join the LEO Foundation Alumni Club.

About the award