I’ve gone straight from engaging with pastors to engaging with post-doctoral scientists. What, you ask, do I mean? Well, for the next 10 days, I’ll be at Childrens Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) attending the 5th annual NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) Training Course. I attended three years ago and already noted a significant development. Two of the dozen scientists in attendance are here to learn how to culture hESCs so that they can reprogram adult stem cells into the more versatile pluripotent ones, not because they want to be hESC researchers.
Phil Schwartz was prescient when he stood by his convictions to work with the NIH approved cell lines in the belief that alternatives to destroying new embryos would emerge. He named at least three alternatives this morning: stem cells derived from adult cells, from eggs and from sperm. Of course, I’m not yet sure how interested the students are in all that. Phil will make sure they get a well-rounded introduction to the field. For this tax-payers can be grateful.
I won’t be blogging much from this material, as I’m working on stories for other outlets, but I will try to reserve something for Exploring Intersections. A few of the lecture topics I’m particularly interested in are as follows:
- Talking to the Media
- Stem Cell Patents
- hESC Culture Secrets
- Stem Cell Transplantation
Three years ago I met one of my closest California friends through this course. That friend is now a NIH-funded hESC researcher. This morning, when I told a student that I had just come from a pastors conference, she remarked that the two groups were polar opposites. And isn’t that part of our problem? Not only is there a misconception that science and religion must be at odds, but there is also a prevailing wind of public discourse that always frames the “other” as an enemy. I hope to do my little bit to change the direction of the wind. We’ll see. First I’ll have to get past 30 minutes of Sidney Golub talking hESC politics from what I expect to be a calcified point of view.