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James Thomson - Stem Cell Pioneer


a colony of embryonic stem cells

colony of embryonic stem cells

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Importance of James Thomson:

University of Wisconsin developmental biologist and stem cell researcher, James Thomson received patents related to a method of “isolating embryonic stem cells of humans and primates.” These history-making patents are considered the primary intellectual property rights to embryonic stem cell research within the United States. James Thomson headed the group of scientists that reported the first isolation of embryonic stem cell lines from a non-human primate in 1995, and the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998.

About Stem Cells:

By definition a stem cell is a generic cell that can make exact copies of itself indefinitely. A stem cell has the ability to produce specialized cells for various tissues in the body, for example: heart muscle, brain tissue, and liver tissue. Embryonic stem cells are the ones that are most useful for research. They are obtained from either aborted fetuses or fertilized eggs that are left over from in vitro fertilization.

James Thomson Background:

James Thomson was born on December 20, 1958 in Oak Park, Illinois. He currently (2008) is a John D. MacArthur Professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and is a faculty member of the Genome Center of Wisconsin where he conducts his research.

James Thomson Education:

  • B.S. in biophysics from the University of Illinois in 1981
  • Doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985
  • Doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988
  • Board certified in veterinary pathology in 1995

Where Can Stem Cell Research Take Us?:

In an MSNBC interview, when asked how he saw stem cell research developing in the next 10 to 20 years, James Thomson replied, "I’m optimistic that there will be transplantation-based therapies." Thomson also predicts that within 30 years clinical trials involving stem cells will exist for diseases such as diabetes. However, Thomson stresses the future of basic science - having better access to the human body as an important legacy of stem cell research, leading to better research tools available for scientists.

James Thomson Patents:

  • Primate Embryonic Stem Cells, 1998 #5,843,780
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells, 2001 #6,200,806
  • Hematopoietic Differentiation of Pluripotent hESCs, 2001 #6,280,718
  • Method of Making Embryoid Bodies from Primate Embryonic Stem Cells, 2003 #6,602,711
  • Hematopoietic Differentiation of Pluripotent hESCs, 2003 #6,613,568
  • Method of In Vitro Differentiation of Transplantable Neural Precursor Cells from Primate Embryonic Stem Cells, 2005 #6,887,706
  • Method for Generating Primate Trophoblasts, 2006 #7,148,062
  • Primate Embryonic Stem Cells, 2006 #7,029,913
  • erum Free Cultivation of Primate Embryonic Stem Cells, 2006 #705,252
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