Biology department hosts stem cell researchers

Clearing the air: Leading stem cell researchers spoke to a crowded audience about the importance of stem cells and their potential to cure diseases including cancer. Speaker William Lowry has converted adult skin cells back to stem cells, a revolutionary discovery.
Photo by Alexa Boldt- Staff Photographer

The use of stem cells for research has been a hot button topic in the United States over the last decade. It’s in the news often, and opinions of the method vary. Some don’t understand it or believe it’s ethical.

On Friday, March 8, the CLU biology department held a public seminar called, “The Cell Biology Symposia, Stem Cell: Promise and Potential.”

There were three guest speakers, two researchers from UCLA and an advisor in ethics. These guests worked under initiatives for stem cell research under former President Bill Clinton.

Chad Barber, a professor of biology at CLU, said that this is an important topic right now because in California initiatives are being reviewed about stem cell research and how it can be used in the future.

Barber says that the majority of us don’t understand cell biology and diseases, by educating ourselves we can get rid of misconceptions we have and understand its usefulness.

According to Barber, Hanna Mikkola and William Lowry, two of the speakers, are researchers who’ve made important discoveries in the field. Lowry was able to take adult skin cells and convert them back to stem cells. Barber said Lowry is the first person in the U.S. to be able to do this.

Barber invited Steve Peckman to discuss the ethics of stem cell research, because he said there are a lot of misconceptions about it, that people think in order to research there needs to be an aborted fetus, but says there are other options now.

“It’s wonderful that our school is so interested in science and medicine and able to teach us about such an advanced topic,” said junior Elizabeth East.

Freshman Blake Stevens said its pretty cool that our school is able to get researchers who are knowledgeable in a topic with this much impact, to come speak to students.

The event was held in the Lundring Events center until noon. Coffee and breakfast were served.

Many of the people in attendance were other researchers in the area, professors and students. There was time set aside after each speaker for questions.

The seminar gave information about what research looks like today and how it is being done, and reaffirmed its importance. The seminar notes discoveries in stem cells could be the cure for cancer and other diseases. Most of the research is funded by organizations like the American Cancer Society.


Brock Funfar
Staff Writer
Published March 13, 2013