Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Canadian duo dubbed fathers of stem cell research honoured with Lasker Award

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - Stem Cell Guru

Science involves a mixture of theory, creativity, experiment, and accident.
Stem cell research is no exception. Dr. Ernest McCulloch and James Till discovered stem cells nearly 40 years ago and are to receive the 2005 Lasker Award for basic medical research.

"We had switched the focus from what might they look like to what can they do," said Till. "That was, I believe, our major contribution, to say: 'Forget it. Who cares whether they're purple or not. Let's focus on what they can do.' "

"We used the results to make a definition of stem cells," added McCulloch.
"We said a stem cell had to have extensive growth potential - be able to grow through many cell-divisions - and secondly that it must be able to give rise to new stem cells - the process of self-renewal."

As well, these progenitor cells would have to have the power differentiate, giving rise to offspring of varying functions, such as oxygen-carrying red cells and disease-fighting white cells in the blood.

"So that out of the work came a functional definition of stem cells that I think holds true today," McCulloch said in his self-effacing, measured style.

It is wonderful to see McColloch and Till being honored for their work. But we should also remember all those researchers over the last 40 years who have brought us from McColloch and Till to where we are today, including our own research team in Israel.


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