Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stem Cell Awards of the Year: From Geron to iPS 'Warts'

The end of the year is a traditional time for the media to come up with lists of both the dubious and meritorious events and personages of the year. This year's nominations from a California stem cell researcher include Geron, Roman Reed and the new chairman of the California stem cell agency.

Paul Knoepfler, a stem cell scientist at UC Davis and one of the few stem cell scientists who blogs regularly, today revealed his awards for 2011. They ranged from the political cartoon of the year to the stem cell scientific issue of the year.

Geron was named in the "misstep of the year." Knoepfler wrote,
"You guys really screwed up by dropping your stem cell program in this manner. I believe this bordered on the unethical. I commend the actual stem cell scientists at Geron, but the person(s) who as leaders pulled the trigger on killing the stem cell program did wrong."
Roman Reed was named "stem cell activist of the year." Reed is the man who came up with the CIRM motto several years ago, "Turning stem cells into cures." He has long been active on stem cell issues, along with his equally hard-working father, Don Reed.

Jonathan Thomas, the relatively new chairman of the stem cell agency, was named "stem cell leader of the year." Thomas was elected chairman of the agency in June, replacing Bob Klein, who stepped down. Knoepfler wrote that Thomas "has impressed the stem cell community and made some very positive changes at CIRM to make an awesome organization even better."

Knoepfler has much more,  including the stem cell biotech of the year –
Advanced Cell Technology of Santa Monica, Ca. – which Knoepfler said has two hESC trials on track and an "impressive scientific leadership." Not to be overlooked is the stem cell scientific issue of the year – "warts" or genetic changes -- at least possible ones involving iPS cells. Knoepfler points out that the subject has drawn a vast number of citations in journal articles.

We should not forget the stem cell blog of the year, which came in as a tie between Stem Cell Network of Canada and Stem Cell Assays by William Gunn of San Diego and Alexey Berseney of Philadelphia. Knoepfler also mentioned the CIRM Research Blog, overseen by Amy Adams, and the California Stem Cell Report. Knoepfler said the California Stem Cell Report "is read by a who’s who of the stem cell world, and is a source of important information about CIRM," although Knoepfler said he wished the blog was more balanced "in terms of positive and critical stories." However, Knoepfler did note that several more positive items have appeared recently, but this analyst warns of the perils of excessive exuberance.

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