2002 California Scientist of the Year
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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.
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.
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
D. Cooper, M.D.
of Medicine, Pediatrics, Microbiology and Pathology
Hughes Medical Institute
learn more about Dr. Weissman's work, try these links:
Promise and Perplexities of Stem Cells