Monday, October 08, 2007

Nobel link to embryonic stem cells

A 2001 article in the NYT by NICHOLAS WADE observed:

Many scientists consider a chief architect of the embryonic stem cell field to be Dr. Martin Evans, a biologist at the University of Cardiff in Wales. This year Dr. Evans received a Lasker Award, a prestigious prize that is sometimes a precursor to the Nobel.

Working with Dr. Matthew Kaufman in the early 1980's, Dr. Evans showed how the cells that form all the tissues of the mouse's body can be removed from the very early embryo and grown for study in a laboratory dish. Dr. Gail Martin of the University of California at San Francisco, who independently did a similar experiment, called them embryonic stem cells, and the name stuck.

Dr. Evans said the methods for growing human embryonic stem cells were essentially the same as those he developed for mice. But he wanted to study how the embryo developed, and it was easier and ethically necessary to do so in mice rather than people, he said.

"Thomson was driven by the idea that if you could do it with humans, it would be important," said Dr. Irving Weissman, a stem cell biologist at Stanford. "The real science went on before," he said, referring to work by Dr. Evans and others.

Sir Martin J. Evans of Cardiff University in Wales now shares the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies.


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