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Paul KnoepflerRSS Feed of this column.

Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine. Long-time stem cell and cancer scientist. Cancer survivor. Patient Advocate. Science Writer. Blogger at Read More »

Are awards and prizes in science a good thing or do they reward a tiny subpopulation of individuals at the expense of the community? 

On the whole I believe that the giving of awards is a positive thing for the scientific world. They draw attention to individuals that make a disproportionate positive difference. 
The idea of using stem cells to treat Type I Diabetes is very promising and could have huge practical impact. Real progress has been achieved toward this goal over the last decade. In perhaps another decade there might be a validated treatment. 
I remember in junior high I did an experiment where I goofed around with pH paper and my lab partner and I neutralized an acidic solution

I've been feeling a sense of deja vu lately.

You might have heard the bombshell of a story that came out almost exactly two months ago: researchers reported simply and quickly making super powerful stem cells (called "totipotent" or "pluripotent") from ordinary blood cells via a simple cellular dunk in a weak acid bath.

What the heck?
Yesterday a paper (“Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer” in Cell) came out that reported for the first time the production of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) by the method of early embryo cloning via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).

This approach, technically called "therapeutic cloning" means that in theory hESC could be made from any of us and be given back to us as a self or autologous transplant.

Powerful stuff!

However, this advance is also (despite the talking points being advanced by some of my colleagues to the contrary) a real big step toward the other kind of human cloning: reproductive cloning.