Two people making a million-person difference in the stem cell field

It was an honor and pleasure yesterday to show my friends, Roman Reed and Keri Kimler, around my stem cell lab here at UC Davis School of Medicine.

My lab members got a chance to show Keri and Roman some of the interesting research we have ongoing involving ES cells and human iPS cells, funded by CIRM and NIH. To the left is a picture of us together  (me on the left, then Roman, and then Keri).

Keri and Roman are not just friends, but are also two of the key people making a difference with their time and energy. They are publicly putting themselves out there.

They are fighting for advances in research that I believe will help thousands or even millions of people.

Roman has been a pioneer in advancing research using stem cells, including for the treatment of spinal cord injury. You can read more about Roman here.  Roman’s dad, Don, is another guy out there fighting for research. They are not just advocates. They are successful, productive advocates who make real things happen including the pioneering Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, which was passed into law a dozen years ago back when very few people very thinking about stem cells as potential medicines.

Keri is Vice Chair of Texans for Stem Cell Research. Keri and her organization advance knowledge about stem cell research both in Texas and throughout the U.S.  Texas is a key state when it comes to research generally, but also in the stem cell area. Texas is one of the top states for biomedical research in the country. It also has a very conservative reputation when in comes to politics and also embryonic stem cell research, as witnessed by current Texas Governor (and Republican candidate for President) Perry, who is very much anti-embryonic stem cell research. So Keri is fighting the good fight in sometimes-hostile political territory. I think the people of Texas overall do support stem cell and even embryonic stem cell research even if the political leaders use the issue like a football.

Keri and Roman are perfect examples of individual people making an outsized difference, what I call a million-person difference. Through their efforts they have a huge impact, almost like a million people working together. If you care about stem cell research, you can make an outsized difference too. One of the most important ways is through publicly voicing your support with friends and family as well as helping pass legislation. Your voice and your vote are powerful tools that you can use to make a difference for the positive. The opposition is clearly not afraid to use their voices to oppose potential life-saving research so silence by those who favor such research is in a way giving in and capitulating to those who would stomp on this research.

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