Distributed July 1, 2002
News Service Contact: Scott Turner
Cloning expert Lanza to speak at Brown July 15
On Monday, July 15, 2002, at 7 p.m. Robert Lanza, M.D., a member of the scientific team that reported cloning the world’s first human embryo, will deliver the lecture “Stem Cell Research, Cloning and the Future of Medicine.” He will speak in the Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green at Brown University. His presentation will be free and open to the public.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Robert Lanza, M.D., one of the world’s leading specialists in the use of therapeutic cloning for medical purposes, will present the talk “Stem Cell Research, Cloning and the Future of Medicine” at 7 p.m. Monday, July 15, 2002, in the Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green at Brown University. His talk will be free and open to the public and will be followed by a brief question and answer session.
Lanza is medical director and vice president of medical and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. in Worcester, Mass. He was a member of the scientific team that reported cloning the world’s first human embryo. Lanza was also the first to clone an endangered species and to demonstrate that therapeutic cloning might be able to reverse the aging process and to possibly generate immune-compatible tissues from animals. His efforts may culminate someday in cloning animal cells to create organ transplants for humans.
The work by Lanza and colleagues to create a human embryo remains controversial. Some criticize it as incomplete science published prematurely. Others oppose the idea behind it, because the same techniques could be used for human cloning. Still, a number of people applaud Lanza and coworkers as groundbreaking pioneers in a powerful new approach to technologies that could revolutionize 21st-century medicine.
Therapeutic cloning uses genetic material from a patient’s own cells (adult stem cells) or from embryonic stem cells to generate new tissue or nerve cells to treat or repair damaged bodily organs. It is different from reproductive cloning, which aims to implant a cloned embryo into a woman’s uterus leading to the birth of a cloned offspring.
Reproductive cloning has potential risks to both mother and fetus that currently make it unwarranted, say Lanza and colleagues. They support a restriction on cloning for reproductive purposes until associated safety and ethical issues are resolved.
“Dr. Lanza is a clear advocate for cloning stem cells to treat disease,” said professor Michael Lysaght, who heads the Center for Biomedical Engineering. “He believes that this therapeutic use does not raise new ethical issues beyond those already implicit in widely accepted applications of reproductive technology.”
Having yet to set themselves apart as cells with specific functions, stem cells retain the ability to develop into any of the body’s other cells or tissues. Scientists hope to use them eventually to grow replacement organs in the laboratory and to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Lanza is the author of recent texts on tissue engineering, organ transplants and cloning. His collaborators have included the late polio-vaccine discoverer Jonas Salk, M.D., Nobel laureates Gerald Edelman, M.D., and Rodney Porter, the late psychologist B.F. Skinner and the late heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard, M.D.
The lecture is part of the Distinguish Speakers Forum sponsored by the Summer@Brown program. For general information about the lecture, call Rob Kerr at 401-863-9713.