Stem Cell Research

Stem Cells 101

Human stem cells are the “starter” cells that act as precursors of mature bodily tissues. Such cells have not yet differentiated (become specialized) into their mature forms. All human beings possess such cells. For example, precursors of mature blood cells are the pluripotent stem cells of the bone marrow. These cells are called “pluripotent” (L. “many” + “powers”) because one of these undifferentiated cells can become any of a variety of different blood cells. These include the various white blood cells that protect against bodily infection, platelets that help the blood to clot, and the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.

Podcast Episode: 

The Stem-Cell Veto

President Bush’s veto on Wednesday of any change in his stem cell research policy was derided by many as a sop to his conservative base. But the price that the president and his party are sure to pay for this decision leads me to the conclusion that, whatever the politics of the move, the president actually has been persuaded by the moral argument against embryonic stem cell harvesting.

Podcast Episode: 

Veritas? Harvard's Stem Cell Initiative

Last night I read a press release announcing Harvard University's launch of a privately funded program that will create cloned embryos for the purpose of embryonic stem cell research. I wondered how the institution would handle the ethical controversy surrounding the procedure so I read an article in the Harvard Gazette.[1] Doing so left me thinking how ironic it is that the school's seal bears the Latin word for "truth."

Podcast Episode: