Biology’s Brave New World: Straight talk about stem cells


Date Thursday July 27th 2006
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

In 1998, a group of scientists achieved one of the most coveted goals in biology: the isolation of a primitive kind of cell that potentially can make every kind of tissue, including muscle, bone, and brain. The discovery of human embryonic stem cells was hailed as a landmark event, promising insights into and treatments for diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Stem cell research has since ignited debates ranging from the extension of the human lifespan to abortion, human cloning, “designer babies,” and the question of when life begins. These issues challenge us to rethink our obligations to the sick and what it means to be human, and touches upon facets of education, ethics, business, law and politics. The stakes are high: stem cell research and the drive for cures and therapies touch every American. As a result, new legal and ethical concerns must be addressed in a setting where all sides can be heard, respected, and debated. This talk will survey the scientific, moral and political landscape of human stem cells and give listeners a clear and unambiguous accounting of biology’s most promising frontier.


Christopher Thomas Scott is a Stanford University lecturer in Human Biology and Pediatrics and Executive Director of the Stanford Program on Stem Cells and Society. His acclaimed book, Stem Cell Now: From the experiment that shook the world to the new politics of life (Penguin) explains the science, ethics and politics of stem cells for the lay reader.

Scott was the scientific founder of Acumen Sciences, and the executive editor of the award-winning Acumen Journal of Sciences. He was the Assistant Vice Chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco, and was a senior administrator at Stanford, where he held numerous positions.

He has been featured in national and local media coverage of these and other issues, including Time, U.S. News and World Report, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, and TechNation, KQED's Perspectives and Forum, and UPI and Fox News.

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