Akina Hoshino ’06 

Company / School: Universal Cells

Position / Degree: Director of Clinical Gene Editing and Process Development


  • BA, Biology and Chinese, Vassar College
  • PhD, Neuroscience, University of Maryland at Baltimore

Akina Hoshino (she/her) is an accomplished scientist working on cutting-edge technologies to deliver genetically engineered cell therapies to patients. She leads a clinical gene editing team that manufactures pluripotent stem cell lines to develop off-the-shelf cell therapies for diseases ranging from blindness to cancer and beyond, and a process development team that supports these activities. Under her leadership, both of her teams have doubled in size and contributed to the addition of novel capabilities. Akina believes that by working collaboratively and inspiring good communication, we can overcome challenges that come with designing new therapy modalities. Akina received her PhD in Neuroscience from University of Maryland, Baltimore, studying the regulation of enzymes involved in generating hormones such as insulin. There she was inspired by research to cure diabetes in mice using pluripotent stem cells and decided to pursue a career in cell therapy. She was awarded an NRSA grant at the University of Washington to complete her postdoctoral training in retinal differentiation. After her fellowship, she joined Universal Cells to follow her passion in developing cell therapy products and policies. At Vassar, she double majored in biology and Chinese and spent a semester at Dartmouth. When she is not strategizing the team’s next big editing campaigns or problem-solving, Akina enjoys experiencing new cuisine and taking long walks along the water.

Advice to Students:

Be patient and stay curious. In this age of instant gratification and knowledge, spending years in a field may seem very long. Whenever I start a new project I learn a lot in the first phase, but as I work through challenges, I am really able to take that knowledge and apply it in innovative ways to move the field forward. It takes time and experience to really appreciate the data and technology. And if you truly believe that you have mastered a skill, then make it better—that’s really our contribution. I would also spend time to build relationships with people both within and outside of your department. Great discoveries come from listening and implementing ideas from diverse perspectives.

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