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Copywrite 2001-2004, California Science Center

Irving Weissman, M.D.
2002 California Scientist of the Year


The 2002 California Scientist of the Year is Irving Weissman, M.D., the first scientist to identify and isolate stem cells in any species. Stem cells are important because they can produce many different types of specialized cells instead of just replicating themselves like most cells do. Dr. Weissman first isolated the hematopoietic stem cell, the cell type that forms all other blood cells, from mice. Dr. Weissman later identified the hematopoietic stem cell in humans also, and its discovery has opened many new avenues for research and treatment of many different kinds of cancers.

Since Dr. Weissman's initial discovery in 1988, a whole new area of scientific research has been devoted to stem cells. Stem cells have been found in several different tissues in the human body, including muscles and the brain. To advance the ability of scientists to be able to study human stem cells and tissues in living organisms, Dr. Weissman and his team also developed a procedure to transplant human tissues into mice with weakened immune systems. This new procedure gives scientists the opportunity to study many illnesses in more detail, and also to develop treatments for diseases such as leukemia.

"Irv Weissman is treasured throughout the world for his love of life and science, his wonderful capacity to communicate ideas and the excitement of science, and his personal generosity."
-Max D. Cooper, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Microbiology and Pathology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

To learn more about Dr. Weissman's work, try these links:
Stem Cell Pursuits
Irving L. Weissman
The Promise and Perplexities of Stem Cells

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