Thursday, March 12, 2009

You can now major in stem cells at Harvard

"Today, with the executive order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers, doctors and innovators, patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: We will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research."
~ President Obama, March 9

Christopher Reeve would want to jump for joy. Just one day after President Obama lifted Bush's asinine, religious-based ban on the federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, Harvard's undergrad college, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, announced that FAS had late Tuesday voted to approve a new concentration (Harvard-speak for "major"). The new Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (whose website is so new it's actually still blank) will be available through the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology which was formed in 2007. FAS reports:
One of the first of its kind in the nation, the new program will be available this fall to students starting with current freshman, the Class of 2012. The concentration will focus on human development, disease, and aging, and will provide “hands on” science education from the first semester.
According to the department's website,
The department's subject area is the study of the development, maintenance and repair of vertebrate tissues. How organisms, including humans, develop from a fertilized egg, maintain tissues in the adult body and repair dysfunctional or damaged tissue is a broad subject to be addressed using the approaches of developmental biology, regenerative medicine and aspects of tissue engineering. Emphasis will be placed on using these aspects of biology to inform the understanding of human diseases.
This is pretty exciting news, thanks to Obama! As he said regarding this issue, "medical miracles do not happen simply by accident."

For a more in-depth discussion about stem cell research, CBS has a nice little summary here.

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