July 6, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Barbra Streisand: stem cell advocate

Yesterday I was visiting L.A. and happened by the Walk of Fame, seeing many stars including the one of Barbra Streisand (below).

Streisand Star

Streisand has been doing interviews (see article here ) for both TV and newspapers regarding her advocacy for heart disease research for women.

Interestingly, this interest of Streisand’s directly involves stem cells according to the Hollywood Reporter (and on CNN). She says:

“Heart research done on women also helps men as well,” Streisand said in her recent speech. “Take stem cell research, for example. Recently, Dr. Merz and I were talking about the work of a colleague who is trying to grow the first human heart in a petri dish. She had a breakthrough in her study when she found out that using only female stem cells was the solution. She discovered that using male stem cells didn’t work; they got totally lost. And, as we know, men — even male stem cells — won’t ask for directions.

The article also says:

“Barbra has now brought over $22 million to this cause, including her own generous gift of $10 million in matching funds,” says Dr. Noel Bairey-Merz, director of the program which in June was re-named the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center. 

See picture below of Streisand and Dr. Bairey-Merz from the Reporter.

Noel Bairey-Merz

This is really cool. I applaud Streisand for her work for this very worthy cause and for delving into stem cell research, which is very promising for heart disease.

However, I’m not familiar with the work referenced on stem cells above in which supposedly men’s stem cells are essentially clueless about hearts. It sounds interesting and kinda ironically funny though.

I’m betting the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center will make a big difference. According to the article Streisand enlisted support from other celebs:

Streisand played an active role in helping secure significant donations through her personal contacts with Ralph LaurenRonald PerelmanSumner RedstoneBarry Diller and Diane von FurstenbergIrwin JacobsHaim Saban and others. She also helped persuade New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make a $1 million gift.

I wish more celebs would take such an interest in stem cells and advocating for research. Way to go, Barbra!