Fortnightly logo

The Past, Present, and Future of Stem Cell Research

Stem cells are primitive cells from which other, more specialized cells, develop. Many scientists believe stem cells may someday be useful as therapies for a variety of diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and spinal-cord injuries. But the most useful stem cells come from early human embryos, which are destroyed in the process of retrieving them. As a result, many people oppose stem cell research on moral grounds. As this debate has heated up in the past few years, stem cell research has become a sensitive political issue.

Dr. Robert P. Lanza, Vice President of Medical and Scientific Development at Advance Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts, is on the cutting edge of stem cell research. An Adjunct Professor of Surgical Sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and former Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Lanza has been nominated for a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award. He has over 200 scientific publications, books and patents, including Principles of Tissue Engineering (1996), Yearbook of Cell and Tissue Transplantation (1996), One World: The Health and Survival of the Human Species in the 21st Century (1996), and Xeno: The Promise of Transplanting Animal Organs into Humans (2000). His current area of research focuses on the use of stem cells and nuclear transplantation in regenerative medicine.

Dr. Lanza received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a University Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar, and has studied with some of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th and 21st centuries. He has worked closely with Jonas Salk (the Salk Institute), Gerald Edelman (Rockefeller University) and Richard Hynes (Center for Cancer Research at MIT). In addition, he has coauthored a series of papers with Christian Barnard, M.D. and B.F. Skinner, Ph.D.

This is a rare opportunity to learn about this widely discussed but little understood issue from one of the premier experts in the field.