Stanford stem cell researcher Irving Weissman, MD, recently assumed the presidency of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. Writing for Nature Reports Stem Cells, Monya Baker seized the opportunity to talk with him about his plans for the organization and his feelings about the recent human embryonic stem cell research guidelines set by the National Institutes of Health.
Weissman's dissatisfaction with the guidelines has been made clear in several different forums. (You can view a podcast of a conversation between Weissman and my boss and fellow blogger Paul Costello here, or read a release detailing his thoughts here.) One thing I haven't heard him talk much about before, though, is a proposal to rein in some of the more outrageous stem-cell therapy claims by calling them out as 'unproven'. It's long overdue, in my opinion. Too many desperate people around the world are clutching at therapeutic straws dangled by unethical psuedo-scientists. Even if we can't yet give them a cure, these patients deserve reasoned guidance from professionals motivated by ethics rather than money.