Last night at Sage Hill School, Dr. Peter Donovan, one of the world’s foremost stem-cell research scientists and director of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at UC Irvine, kicked off the first-ever Sage Hill School Science Lecture Series with his address entitled “Stem Cells: Revolutionizing the Treatment of Human Disease.”
Donovan’s background is impressive, to say the least, and his credentials are worth noting. He received his Ph.D in Cell Biology from University College, London, and carried out postdoctoral studies at St. George’s Medical School in London, where he began his studies on germ cell development. He is currently the program director for the UC Irvine Training Grant in Stem Cell Biology and the principal investigator for the UC Irvine Shared Research Laboratory and Stem Cell Techniques Course, both funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He also iss a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Plank Institute for Biomolecular Medicine in Munster, Germany.
Though still in its infancy, the field of stem-cell research is fascinating for a variety of reasons. Although it sounds scary for scientists to be able to use the stem cells as “biological blank slates” to become virtually any of the body’s cell types, the benefits, if perfected, could be as significant as the discovery of penicillin or the vaccine for polio.
As a result, there is hope that the hunt for cures to some of humankind’s more vexing diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, lung disease and even arthritis could be on the horizon. Since many of these diseases afflict so many worldwide, a cure for even one of them would be a miracle for those afflicted, and prevent a significant amount of suffering in the future.
The Sage Hill Science Lecture Series is one of Sage Hill School’s community-based outreach initiatives connecting students and community members of all ages with a passion for science with prominent leaders of universities, private research facilities and leading-edge science/technology companies.
Other talks are slated for Thursday, Jan. 17, and Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Held in the Black Box Theater at Sage Hill, the lectures are free to the public and the community is encouraged to visit [email protected] for details.
With such a great start to their new lecture series, I am looking forward to returning often to see who will be on the dais!
Lynn Selich can be reached at [email protected]