Five stem cell legends & a blogger walk into a bar: the increasing influence of social media

stem cell leaders

Five legends and a blogger walk into a bar together.

The bartender asks the first legend “What can I get for you?”

The legend orders their drink.

The bartender eventually serves up drinks to all five legends and turns to the blogger, “And what can I get for you?”

The blogger replies, “Do you have Wi-Fi?

“…..and a beer.”

I’ve now been doing my stem cell blog for about 2 1/2 years.

It started as an experiment and sort of took on a life of its own.

I find it very rewarding, but does all this blogging mean anything real and substantial?

Traffic continues to increase on this blog and it seems that the blog still has a who’s who audience of the stem cell world. So I guess the answer is “yes” to many people.

I’m very proud of the research that my lab does and I believe in making a difference through this research, but my hope is that this blog also makes a difference and means something to readers.

This past week we had a company announce the 50 most influential people in the stem cell world.

I was very skeptical of such a list, but curious who they had picked and why. So I opened it up and was very surprised that there I was at the very top….no, not #1, but #50.

However, they chose to put #50 first at the top of the first page of the PDF.


Heck, I’m not complaining. I don’t totally understand how this group picked the most influential stem cell people and such lists are clearly arbitrary in some ways, but it’s neat to be on the list.

I think this blog had a lot to do with me being there.

CIRM recently ran a piece on this Top 50 stem cell influencers and included a picture of some CIRM-related folks including me (see pic at the top of this piece.)

What an honor it is for me to be with those 5 legends in the stem cell field in that montage.

In case you are not in the stem cell field or if you are you have been doing research on stem cells on Mars for a few decades, I can tell you who the other 5 are.

Starting at the top left is Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka, then to his right is CIRM President Alan Trounson, and then we have Bob Klein who made Prop 71 a reality and is Chairman Emeritus of the CIRM Board. Then the next row starts with me on the left, then stem cell legend Jan Nolta who is Editor-in-Chief of the fantastic journal Stem Cells (and my colleague here at UCD), and finally Fred Gage, who has been doing pioneering stem cell work for decades and is the past President of ISSCR.

This montage reminds of that song on Sesame Street “…which of these things do not belong” where they have pictures of maybe five balls of different shapes and sizes, and then a zebra. I feel kinda like that zebra. Yeah, you can tell I’m a dad from the Sesame Street reference.

I can think of many others who did not even make the top 50 in this particular list who I believe are amazing stem cell stars that could and arguably should have been included: Irv Weissman, George Daly, Len Zon, Sean Morrison, Konrad Hochedlinger, Jeanne Loring, and Rudy Jaenisch, just to name a few, but there dozens more I could list. I could probably list 50 people just in the state of California here in the US.

Do I belong there with those 5 stars in that photo montage above? Or on that list of top 50?

I don’t know, but I think one message from all of this is that social media is increasingly influential in science and in the stem cell field.

A stem cell blog can have a powerful impact on the field. I didn’t remotely imagine that in 2010.

1 thought on “Five stem cell legends & a blogger walk into a bar: the increasing influence of social media”

  1. Paul, you are a visionary. As are all of your top 50 colleagues.

    A visionary builds a concept on the mind’s stage shrouded from others in a fog of uncertainty and disbelief. The farsighted have to stare long and hard only to glimpse the outline, whereas the nearsighted are never aware until it becomes an unavoidable truth.

    SELLUWUD 03/19/2013

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