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Stem Cell Expert to Discuss Science, Politics of Research

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Stem cell pioneer Mark Noble, Ph.D., a forceful advocate in the field of stem cell research, will discuss the science and the politics of stem cells later this week as part of a lecture series highlighting biological and biomedical research at the University of Rochester.

Noble will discuss “Stem Cell Wars: You Say You Want A Revolution?” at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, in Whipple Auditorium (Room 2-6424) at the Medical Center. It’s the latest installment of the “Second Friday Science Social” lecture series geared mainly to faculty, staff and students at the University, though the general public is welcome as well. The lectures are free. More information is available at

Noble, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Genetics, is a renowned stem cell scientist who has entered headlong into the debate about the research. He is the rare researcher whose passion drives him not only in the laboratory but also in the public arena, where the wider implications of the research are worked out.

“Stem cell medicine is already revolutionizing the way we practice medicine and conduct biomedical research,” said Noble. “These new areas of discovery offer an opportunity to drastically change the way we approach many important medical problems, and to improve millions upon millions of lives. The debates we are having today mirror earlier battles about scientific progress. More than a century ago, for example, people debated about whether to vaccinate to protect against smallpox. Some people felt it was unethical to do so for religious reasons. Once the decision was made to vaccinate, however, millions of lives were saved. Today’s debates about stem cells are similar, even to the precise language that is used by the antagonists of this new arena of research.”

Noble leads a thriving research program that focuses on stem and precursor cells and their roles in cancer, spinal cord repair, damage to the nervous system by environmental toxicants and chemotherapeutic agents, genetic diseases, and developmental disabilities. He has collaborated with faculty members Margot Mayer-Proschel, Ph.D., and Chris Proschel, Ph.D., as a research team since 1990 in a journey that has taken them from laboratories in London to Utah and, beginning in 2000, to Rochester. The group has played key roles in the discovery of the four known progenitor cells that give rise to the various cell types found in the central nervous system. Internationally, they are among a small number of research teams focusing on developing such a broad-based approach to the field of stem cell medicine.

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