Thursday, April 5, 2007

Stem Cells - A New Sheriff in Town ?
BigU lures Jonathan Slack from Bath

The Star-Tribune reports on a new faculty member at BigU:

Last update: April 04, 2007 – 9:32 PM

'Headless frog' scientist to lead U stem cell efforts

By Maura Lerner, Star Tribune

Ten years ago, British scientist Jonathan Slack set off an international furor when he told a reporter that his lab had created a headless tadpole, and that it might be possible to do the same thing with human embryos.

This week, the university announced that Slack, 57, had been named head of its stem cell program after 11 years at the University of Bath in England.

A widely respected biologist and author, Slack is best known for his pioneering work on turning liver cells into pancreas cells (a potential treatment for diabetes). And for his studies on how animals (tadpoles) regenerate limbs.

The university saw him as dynamic enough to replace the institute's internationally known founder, Dr. Catherine Verfaillies, who left as director to return to her native Belgium.

Eventually, the furor died down, but not before facing criticism around the world. At one point, he even removed his nameplate from his parking space, fearing an attack from animal rights activists. Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist and former University of Minnesota professor, and J. Craig Venter, a prominent genetic scientist, upbraided him in Science magazine for unleashing a "torrent of silliness" about a "ridiculous" idea.

Mr. B. trusts that Dr. Slack has learned his lesson. The MCCL folks in ColdState as well as the state legislature and the animal rights terrorists can be extremely troublesome. Dr. Slack will need to have a good command of administratese in order to stay out of trouble. Let's hope that he does not get out of the bath and into the frying pan.



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