September 30, 2010
Doris Taylor —
Stem Cells, Untold Stories

Using stem cells, Doris Taylor brought the heart of a dead animal back to life and might one day revolutionize human organ transplantation. She takes us beyond lightning rod issues and into an unfolding frontier where science is learning how stem cells work reparatively in every body at every age.

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Taylor is the director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Pertinent Posts


Three scientists were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work on telomeres — a term that came up in our interview with Doris Taylor. She explains that just as stress can shorten telomeres, they have the potential to be lengthened and extend life.

SoundSeen (our multimedia stories)

"Bioreactors + Building Hope" with Doris Taylor

See elaborate architectural glass bulbs with tubes feeding suspended rodent hearts — one lifeless with old cells; another one stage farther, a pale "scaffold" ready for stem cells to be injected; and finally a regenerated heart pink, pumping, alive and beating on its own. Also hear the story of the man with a heart disease that told Taylor she is "building hope."

"Surprising Beauty: Holding a Pig's Heart" with Doris Taylor

Doris Taylor shows Krista Tippett and senior producer Mitch Hanley a pig's heart and liver that have had their cells removed.

About the Image

In her lab at the University of Minnesota, Doris Taylor points to a "bioreactor" that contains a beating, regenerated heart.

Photo by Andy Dayton

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Dear Krista,
I always enjoy your show and enjoyed your book too. You always seem to do your homework by researching and checking things out.

That is why I was a little surprised to find your outline of the stem cell program makes no mention at all of non-embryonic stem cells.

There is an excellent website called Do No Harm that is maintained by several medical professionals.
One them worked/works at Mayo Clinic. Another is from Brown University, I believe the school you graduated from.

The main gist of the site is there is absolutely no need for embryonic stem cell research. Many different treatments have already been discovered using non-embryonic stem cells. 73 to be exact.

This is compared to no diseases treated from embryonic cells.

Another similar site is:

Here are a few other URLs that give treatments from adult / non-embryonic stem cells.

My question is, why do the questionable thing when there is a 100% safe, effective, non-destructive alternative that shows more and more promise?

What an incredible story! I can't imagine how anyone came up with the idea to wash out the existing cells from organs and replace them. And a heart that beats on its own -- wow! Fascinating and encouraging research.

As a seminary graduate though, I am concerned about the idea behind this that science is "creating" life. Science gives us a better understanding of what God created. Religion and science can work together, as long as we remember that. I am also concerned about the use of fertilized eggs for the harvesting of stem cells. I know that there has been research done on menstrual blood and that it contains millions of stem cells -- everything needed to nurture the fetus. Other options were presented in the story, as well. Since we have them, why not make use of them.

I was also surprised that so little was said about nutrition, other than a few remarks about what happens when one eats a "cheese burger." Dr. Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Laureate, was a leader in Orthomolecular Medicine and demonstrated that degenerative diseases could be prevented and often cured by high dose nutrients, along with proper diet. Vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are the building blocks of the cells, and in optimum doses can change gene expression. In fact, telomeres are longer in those who take regular nutrient supplements than those who do not. Stress can come in many forms, both emotional and environmental, and high dose nutrients can reduce the damaging effects.

We are "wonderfully and fearfully made," and our need for proper nutrition hasn't changed since The Beginning. However, due to modern life-styles, nutrient deficient soil and food, and environmental toxins, we need to get those nutrients in larger doses through supplements, and even by IV, in order to combat these problems.

Thanks for an awe inspiring story!

My husband was diagnosed a year and a half ago with Amyloidosis. Through chemo thereapy and autologous stem cell transplant, his disease was put in remission. Without the stem cell transplant, this result might not have been acheived and would certainly not be as long lasting. When harvesting his cells, our doctor collected more than enough for this treatment and my husband has many in reserve in case they are needed again.

Stem cells show amazing promise for healing our bodies. God provides us with so many opportunites as we prgress in our understanding of how things work. I believe that the research has been performed in a way consistent with human dignity and love of God's creation. My husband and I are grateful.

Let's imagine that you are the director of an in vitro fertilization clinic and that you are faced with the decision of destroying hundreds of fertilized eggs -- for whatever reasons there may be. Faced with such a decision, it would be preferable to decide in favor of life to enable those stem cells to continue to survive as new heart, pancreas, or nerve tissue to prolong the life of a patient with heart disease, diabetes, or Parkinson's disease. I see no moral problem in making such a decision. The fate of a fertilized egg depends on where it is placed. If is is not going to be placed in a uterus to enable it to grow to form a new person, why not place it in another environment where it can remain alive and still benefit human life?

You are taking stem cells from just fertilized eggs, but an egg that is just fertilized is a human being with a unique genetic code. And this human being can't be killed to experiment on.
The fact that these cells come from in vitro fertilization, and would be discarded, doesn't change the fact that you can't use them for experimentation, it just indicates that in vitro fertilzation involves the killing of human beings and should be avoided.
No distinction.

If stem cells can be gotten from everywhere, and they can, why do they need to kill embryos?

You still can't kill embryos to do this work, you have to get stem cells some other way, which you can. Embryos that will be discarded must be buried with dignity, nothing less.

I have been a pediatrician for 29 years, and deal daily with the struggles of children and their parents with physical and mental disabilities. This story of basic stem cell research gives me/them new hope that someday we can help their children, or their children's children. It gives new meaning to mean of 'putting spirituality into everday life'. It does that for me as I am off to the hospital today with new meaning because of this program.

I was listening to your show this morning, Sunday, November 1st. The topic was "Stem Cells, Untold Story", with Doris Taylor. One particular comment that Doris made stood out to me. She was reassuring the public that the stem cells she uses do not come from aborted fetuses but rather from embryos left over from IVF procedures. She said that these embryos would either be frozen or destroyed and those two options were the only ones available to these extra embryos. The one option she failed to mention was the fact that these embryos could be adopted by people - other than the ones that created them. I know this for a fact because I am the mother of 2 1/2 year old twins who were adopted as 3 day old, 8 cell embryos, after being frozen for 3 years. These "left over" embryos are so much more than cells to be used for research. These "left over" embryos are human beings at the most tiny, precious, vulnerable and defenseless stage in their development as image-bearers of God who bestows them (and, indeed, all of us) with dignity from conception. Destroying them to use their stem cells is no different than aborting a fetus that has already begun to grow in a woman's womb. That is, any basis on which to distinguish them from fetuses can only be arbitrary.

My request is that if you are going to do programs like this that you make an effort to present ALL the facts, not just the opinions of people with God-less presuppositions.

Thank you,
Lori Burroughs

I recently discovered SOF several weeks ago with the interview of Eckhard Tolle, then Jaroslav Pelikan and this week with Doris Taylor. Krista Tippett is capable of a high level of discussion on various topics.

In that late 1980s I was interested in learning about the use of artificial insemination in breeding horses. I learned that of all the animals currently bred by human intervention only the Thoroughbred race horse was still strictly bred by natural means. No one seems to know the reason (other than tradition) but I discovered a book written in the early part of the 20th century by the Italian Senator and world- reknown breeder Federico Tesio. The book is "Breeding the Race Horse" (Published in 1958 by J.A. Allen, London) currently out-of-print but available through He conducted a non-scientific study over a period of twenty years using artificial insemination (observing race horses in training) and concluded that:
1- All Thoroughbreds (TBs) bred by artificial insemination outwardly appeared normal inheriting Mendelian characteristics.
2- When these horses reached the track at age three for training not one was able to produce adequate nervous energy to be competitive.
The inference was that there is a connection between nervous energy and method of breeding. He compared artificial insemination to the type of reproduction in nature of plant life stating that animals are endowed with a nervous vitality lacking in plants. He rejected the use of this technology citing that it was not science.

The interview today with the stem cell researcher was fascinating and I found myself examining my own belief system. I came into the program in favor of continuing embryonic stem cell research and I remain in favor of it. As your guest remarked, the issue becomes very real when a loved one is touched by a disease or injury that might be healed with stem cells. My beautiful, bright, talented niece was injured in a car accident at age 19 and is now paralyzed from the chest down. She remains beautiful, bright and talented but her life is so difficult, and the stress has taken a toll on all the people who love her, particularly her parents who seemingly aged overnight. So, I am sincere when I say that I have great hope that one day others with her injury might benefit from the research that is being done now.

On the other hand... the fact that this story aired in my area the day after Halloween certainly resonated with me. The Frankenstein images of scientists doing terrible things "because they can" is haunting. Your guest's response to the question about "strip mining humans" struck me as thoughtful and sincere, but I also found myself thinking of the terrible things that have been done to people in the name of science by people who thought they were doing the right thing. Bleeding patients, lobotomizing sufferers from mental illness, etc., was done by "scientists" who were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time.

All of this is to say, your guest is a thoughtful, spiritual person. But as in any other field of human endeavor, not all who are in her field will be as principled. We do need to respond in a real way to that writer in Slate who raised the danger of "strip mining" humans in pursuit of scientific advancement. We do need to employ ethics panels and remain aware of the dangers as we move forward.

As I listened to the program, I gathered more information to help understand my daughter's recent catastrophic illness. She was a strong, healthy, talented 26-year old woman. But the stress was overwhelming for a recent college graduate in her first professional job. Last summer I watched her decline from body aches and pains to the point that she lost the ability to work, drive, think clearly and finally to talk. I left my own home and job and spent a month living in her apartment, working through the medical exploration of the illness. In the midst of it, I developed a case of Shingles—the doctors said it was brought on by my own stress of trying to manage her illness as well as my own long distance job.

We were lucky that she had two wonderful doctors, plus great insurance that covered a week of medical and psychological tests (they first thought she was a psychiatric patient). She was finally diagnosed with Lupus Cerebritis and Hypothyroid disease—both lifelong diseases that are manageable, but have no cure. I have known since the beginning these diseases were brought on by stress. Our family is very careful about how we handle stress in our lives now. I am glad to hear that meditation builds stem cells, and stem cells control inflammation—which was the first sign of my daughter’s decline. This interview added to my knowledge of how to integrate Lupus into our lives.

“Speaking of Faith” offers some pretty wonderful interviews. Thanks for thoughtfully addressing important issues that make us think about who we are.

The relationship between stress , inflammation and cancer I have seen first hand when my mother passed on at 48. I often say it was kids and cancer in that order. She had three children with a man who left when the youngest was about three (me). She tormented herself as her children went into a orphanage for six years and finally remarried a man with five kids ranging from 2 to 20 years. Her years were constant trips to police stations,emergency rooms,doctors, family therapists and probation officers. She lived long enough to enjoy two grandchildren and knowing her youngest child had married. There was never a spiritual sanctuary nor any peace of any kind for her.

I was amazed when Doris Taylor said how meditation increased the stem cells in the blood! Maybe just as exercise release endorphins. I also feel that many elements of our diets increase this inflammation process. I firmly believe that The Ultra Mind Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman identifies cell inflammation sources. There is a continuity of thought about how cells communicate and rejuvenate between Mark Hyman and Doris Taylor. I think Doris Taylor just finished my searching for an answer to well being of the soul-just as Hyman has found the physiological answer to effective cell rejuvenation.

I have a hard time maintaining peace of mind and enjoying whats good about life.I was a "Dennis the Menace" hyper child and found building beach sand castles the most soothing thing I did. Our ADHD son (now 29) spent years on Ritalin yet on the beach building sand castles with dad never needed medication and always in a relaxed mood.To this day he will build castles on the beach and I understand now he just as I did as a hyper child (and adult) has found his way to reverse stress. I'm 57 and after your show I'm creating a spiritual inventory to reverse stress.

Even though there were one or two attempts around the edges to present the moral problems with ESCR, you missed the real argument around the source of these cells. I'll trust Dr. Taylor that there are people who believe that embryonic stem cells come from aborted fetuses, but even so, there are those who would be more amenable to such research if that were the source, on the rationale that the life or death question had been rendered moot in the case of the aborted fetus, but in ESCR we are actively and intentionally destroying nascent human life for the purposes of research (this is precisely the distinction that the Bush Administration made in its restriction of federal funding of ESCR to existing stem cell lines). Dr. Taylor's repeated characterization of these nascent human lives as "tools that nature has given us" is a big red flag to those of us concerned about the research, as it explicitly declares that these human lives are means to other ends.

Those of us who have problems with ESCR wouldn't have problems with research using cells derived from anywhere else she mentioned, such as bone marrow (or even urine!). Perhaps there are very good reasons why she is engaging in such morally problematic and controversial research rather than trying alternative sources for stem cells, but her repeated celebration of science doing what was unthinkable 10 or 50 years ago, along with her statement that we need to "drive carefully," should have at least prompted you to ask the question.

Doris Taylor seemed at a loss to respond to the contention that such things as harvesting stem cells is "strip-mining humanity". In fact, she seemed incapable of even comprehending the meaning of that expression. That is not surprising, since Science has become the religion of the West, and true believers of any persuasion are unable or unwilling to question or even acknowledge their basic axioms.

The primary axiom of Science is that, by analyzing the world to its basic building blocks (cells, atoms, gravity, etc.), all things will be understood and all things can then be accomplished through science's handmaiden, technology (or medicine).

"It all comes down to the cell" she asserted. But an intense focus on the minutiae prevents one from "seeing the forest for the trees". Human beings are not simply an assemblage of cells, and no analytical approach can ever hope to understand our wholeness as living creatures.

It was ironic that Ms. Taylor used the example of the 4,000 year old practice of chewing on willow bark as an analgesic, anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory. She suggested that our grandmothers didn't realize they were taking aspirin. A more accurate assessment would have been: modern medicine doesn't realize that by extracting the "active ingredient" - salicylic acid - they turned a whole medicine into a drug that ulcerates the stomach and can cause the potentially fatal Reye's syndrome.

Unlike the isolated chemical, aspirin, which was named after the spiraea ulmaria (meadowseet) from which it was derived, the meadowseet plant also contains tannins, phenolic glycosides and the herb's essential oil, all of which not only prevent but cure peptic ulcers (and heartburn).

Just as whole plant medicine (and any holistic approach to healing (which comes from the word for "whole") is superior to any analytic approach, a holistic understanding of the human being is necessary for both true healing and authentic spirituality (and the wholesome ethics which is inherent to it).

It requires a very narrowly-focused approach to life believe that we can mimic natural ontogeny and create a living heart in a laboratory. One would have to accept the now-discredited understanding of the heart as simply a muscular pump, when cutting-edge research has demonstrated that the heart is primarily a neural nexis for endocrine control and the primary communicator (electro-magnetic resonator) of the body.

Modern Science and medicine belittles the human being, ignores the interactive wholeness of the body and its complex relationship with its environment, and dismisses the soul entirely. Such is the nature of Doris Taylor's "religion".

This was a wonderful and fascinating story. The work that is being done is so very valuable to our understanding of many diseases and conditions, which we have not been able to make progress with. Stem cells indeed can be seen as another means given to us by our "Higher Power" if you will, to understanding and unlocking some of the complexities of this life; and a chance to make it better for all human beings.
Thank You for bringing this information, and thank you Doris Taylor, for your work.
Jessica Hausman

I really loved the program with Doris Taylor on stem cell research. It is exciting to imagine what possibilities will develop in the years to come from all this research and development. And I so admire people who have the stamina and conviction to continue their work even in the midst of great controversy and even discouragement. I know there was not time enough to go into the many side subjects, but I would love to have been able to hear her view on how this new technology will impact our earth in the future when we are able to do all these things and are actually able cure and prevent so many various illnesses and slow or even reverse the aging process. How will we cope with an even greater population explosion than we can imagine? And ethically, how will we determine who is able to receive all these benefits? In our culture today we seem to go with wealth (or extreme poverty), but how will we even deal with the economics of these new and exciting inovations! As wonderful and exciting as this topic was to hear, especially since I'm coming to the point in my life when those telemers are shortening pretty rapidly, it was also a bit frightening as well, wondering what the conseqences of this would be for the generations yet to come. They will have some very difficult questions to answer for sure.

I am a nurse caring for blood stem cell transplant patients. This program enriched my understanding of the mind-body-spirit connection & offered insights that I will use when helping patients prepare for & going through the transplant process. Thank you for another very interesting & thoughtful program.

Thank you for the interesting and informative conversation with Doris Taylor.

I was disappointed, though, in the discussion about ethical concerns. At the beginning of the broadcast, it was suggested that there would be an attempt to clear up misunderstandings. While Ms. Taylor’s explanation of exactly where embryonic stem cells come from (a fertilized egg, rather than a fetus) may be useful, I was hoping for a clear definition of the difference between the use of embryonic stem cells and of adult stem cells.

The ethical objection is specifically to embryonic stem cells, even if they come from a fertilized egg, which is still human. The argument that fertilized eggs should be used because we don’t really know what to do with these never implanted products of in vitro fertilization, only emphasizes the problem we’ve gotten ourselves into by pursuing in vitro fertilization.

The use of adult stem cells, on the other hand, is objected to by no one that I know of. And, most, if not all, of the breakthroughs have come through the use of adult stem cells.

I have a bit of contention with a comment Doris Taylor made in the interview where she said aborted embryos and fetuses (babies if you're a pro-lifer) are not able to be used for stem cells. Their bone marrow (stem cells) can be used and stem cells could be taken from their blood and from the umbelical cords. She herself stated that stem cells proliferate the body when we are young. Hence, a scrupulous abortionist could sell aborted embryos and fetuses.

One commenter stated that he had no problem using fertilized eggs (blastocysts) as they would be disposed of anyways. I understand his point, but, the fear pro-lifers have is that a fertilization clinician may take additional eggs, fertilize them, likely unbeknownst to the "parents" and then sell off unimplanted blastocysts (which pro-lifers see as a human already due to its being a human in development). Granted, perhaps laws will exist (or do exist) to stop direct payment to a scrupulous clinician, but even then she may receive other non-tracable gifts for her contributions.

I enjoyed listening to the "stem cells untold story". I teach biology and sometimes my students wonder about messing with nature and evolution. This story gave me some more evidence of why we should keep trying to find methods to treat and cure our human diseases. One key thing that stood out for me was when Taylor mentioned that we start to care about such things only when things happen to us or to somebody close to us. We should try to move away from that mentality and support medical reseach because it is to benefit all of humankind, not one group over the other. We can care and cure at the same time. Thank you so much for airing this program.

I really enjoyed the interview with Doris. Her research inspires me to continue in my field. For eighteen years I have been a clinical hypnotherapist. I have seen the dramatic phisiological changes people experience while under stress. One day I would like to hear Doris include hypnosis with meditation and prayer as a stress reducer and self rejuvenator.

Doris Taylor provided a lot of interesting information. Also, I appreciate the goal that you stated at the end of the show of providing information for further thought and discussion. However, It is disappointing that a show on faith would not challenge the guest or at least articulate clearly the principle concern of those who disagree with human embryonic stem cell research. Many people believe for very thoughtful reasons that human embryos are humans and therefore they should be treated with the same respect and dignity as any human and not used as unwitting subjects of science experiments. Granted Ms. Taylor claims her goal is to help people. But for many of us she is helping one set of people at the very dear expense of others. In a sense committing genocide on people who happen to be the unwanted progeny of in vitro fertilization. Just like the Jews were unwanted in Hitler’s Germany. It would have only taken about 30 seconds to clearly articulate this widely held faith based view and yet you could not spare 30 seconds to speak of it in an almost hour long show. The only conclusion one can draw from this is that you support Ms. Taylor’s position and the show was just a thinly veiled attempt to promote it or you are not competent to understand the “embryos are humans” concept which is widely held by many. Since, you went on for abut 50 minutes on very complex biological studies I must assume you are competent to understand the simple concept “embryos are humans and should be treated as such.” So, I must draw the former conclusion. Speaking of Faith is a publicly funded program promoting human embryonic stem cell research; an activity many find to be gravely unethical.

I heard snippets the radio broadcast of the Dorothy Taylor interview on Saturday, 10/31 on RadioIQ. I was intrigued by what I heard and subscribed to the podcast. Yesterday and today, I listened to the un-edited interview and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for a fascinating and stimulating interview. And thanks for the podcasts so I can go back and catch what I miss!

Keep up the wonderful and good work.

I loved this story. Not only did I learn more about stem cells, I am hopeful of it's application to everyday health. I now have a renewed appreciation and motivation for my meditation and yoga practice. Thank you!

Hello, I listened to the story of Dr. Doris Taylor's research this last weekend on WKNO while in Memphis. Thank you for sharing this interesting work with us. To my knowledge, this was my first time hearing your program and I look forward to more.

I would like to comment on Dr. Taylor's remarks about the objections to stem cell research: I believe that she somewhat mischaracterized the nature of those objections. Most people to whom I've spoken regarding this issue do not believe that embryonic stem cells are collected from aborted fetuses. On the contrary, I believe the principled objections of those opposed to embryonic stem cell research are not necessarily to the actual research and use of embryonic stem cells, but rather to the current manner in which they are obtained; those against ESCR are specifically objecting to the destruction of human embryos that necessarily results when stem cells are harvested from them, believing that such destruction is not justified by the scientific use of those stem cells. If embryonic stem cells can be obtained without destruction of embryos, then such objections would disappear. And thus opponents of ESCR are largely in favor of further developing alternative methods of obta ining stem cells, such as through dedifferentiation, altered nuclear transfer, use of induced pluripotent stem cells and use of adult stem cells. I don't believe that there are any objections to those other methods. In short, ESCR opponents are in favor of any type of stem cell research that does not include the killing of living human beings, even in the embryonic stage of development.

best regards
Will Masters

I've started listening to podcasts of SOF and was playing the conversation on stem cells in the car yesterday when my 12-year old son got interested. He normally wants no conversation, no radio when we are driving to or from school. This morning he wanted to hear more. You've made a hit with a soon-to-be teenager. He had some rather insightful and teenager comments about recycling embryos, not putting them in the trash.

The video on the pig's heart was stunning. Where are the images of the beating rat heart?

I like the podcast feature because it lets me listen to conversations again, and again, and again.

I love how Doris Taylor frankly explains what an amazing and exciting field of study stem cell research is. The fact that adults have so many stem cells constantly repairing our body is insane to me, and her quote saying that aging is failing of the body's stem cells is amazing. The possibilites are so exiting!

She breaks right through the social stigma associted with stem cell research. People have manipulated the story and facts of stem cell research so much for a political agenda, and have created a lot of fear and hatred towards the idea of stem cell research. Using cells from fertilized eggs that will be discarded anyways is in no way immoral or wrong.

I hope her and people like her get the fundign they need to keep the research going. I would love to be able to be able to benifit from stem cells when I am older and need them to fix my failing body.

It seems that when you think of stem cell research, you think of mass protests, abortions. An overall social stigma seems attached to the word. However, I have believed for a long time now that the benefit of this research outweighs the downfalls. It sees that if people knew the truth about where it is that most of these cells are coming from, there would be less stigma associated with the issue. It seems that the potential of curing life threatening diseases or crippling disabilities far outweighs just having the embryos discarded.

I also found Doris Taylor's ideas on cancer and how they can possible relate to a lack of replenished stem cells interesting. I would have to say that it is very plausible. It seems that in today's society, stress is the number one problem everyone seems to be facing. And according to Taylor, stress has been proven to reduce stem cells in the body. So it is not so farfetched to associate stress with the large number of cancer cases that plague our society today.

I missed this story when it first aired and I'm very glad that I found it. I was first "cured" by my own stems cells in 1989 when I had an autologous bone marrow transplant to battle agressive non-Hogdkins Lymphoma. Because of other chemo I received prior to the transplant, my heart has been steadily failing for about 15 years. My future currently has a heart transplant in it but it would be so much better if that heart were made of my own cells. Although I am at peace and have become quite comfortable with my own eventual death, there is still a great desire to fight with all I and medicine have to work with. I understand there are many people who are conflicted about this process but as God provides blessed challenges for all of us, he also provides blessed tools to overcome them. "...Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for God is with me. His rod and staff, they comfort me..." (Psalm 23) Dr Doris Taylor and many other researches around the world are God's 'rod and staff', they comfort me. Thank you Krista! Peace, Lisa

Pre-program reflection:

I wonder if Doris Taylor has considered that, because meditation increases stem cell activity, the manifestation of such life-building entities is an epiphenomenon of life-enhancing behavior, thought and intention.

The comparison between the discoveries of DNA and stem cells as equally paradigm-shifting must also take into account the newer and more comprehensive field of epigenetics, which has revealed that DNA is merely the blueprint and not the architect of our physical unfolding. It is the infinitely complex relationship between organism and environment (an artificial separation) that conducts the symphony of both species and individual evolution.

Medical science, like the entire field of scientific endeavor, is built upon the isolation and manipulation of individual structures, and is typically blind to the interactions of the field as a whole.

Interestingly, quantum science has led us to the inescapable and anti-scientific conclusion that the fundamental reality of the universe is the field and that this field is conscious and intelligent. The human mind will never have the comprehension or intelligence to safely manipulate that field, and it is just that hubris which has precipitated the multiple convergent crises that humanity now faces.

That is the true moral issue at hand.

WOW!! Doris Taylor is using her God given, God driven intellect to develop stem cell treatment.I believe God applauds this step in our ability to improve the health of humanity. Thank you for providing this program which will educate folks who are fearful of this "new" regimen of treatment for fatal conditions. My family has fascioscapularhumeral muscular dystrophy. Many of us are severely handicapped by this disease. We are actively participating in research projects which are searching for treatment for this un-treatable disease. Stem cells may not be the answer for FSHMD but we must keep research going in every direction because we have many un-treatable diseases!

Just a comment on the stem-cell program. It was an interesting program, of course, but the scientist made two mistakes. By not using embryonic stem cells, it doesn't mean we're not using stem cells to try to heal someone. Embryonic stem cells aren't necessary, they haven't cured anyone, as opposed to adult stem cells, and they also tend toward tumors, as opposed to adult stem cells. Her other mistake was that the embryos that are discarded - to use them in embryonic stem cell research - is indeed the same as if cells were being used from aborted babies. Both are human beings, and we can't ethically kill an embryo, even if it will eventually be allowed to go out of physical existence, because you can't kill it, it is someone. The idea that people against embryonic stem cell research are against research is not true at all: embryonic stem cell research is immoral since someone is killed, and it doesn't even work and is unnecessary since we have adult stem cells. When she said that adult stem cells aren't developed enough - ? What's that? The adult stem cells are partially developed into an area of the body, where the embryonic ones are pluripotent or can become anything.

Thanks to Doris Taylor for a clear, balanced presentation of the nature of stem cell research and the value of such research. Her work and that of her colleagues broaden knowledge and appreciation of the marvels of life. I strongly believe that as we learn more about the processes of life the more we may appreciate the deep mystery of the creator of all that is.
As with most areas of human endeavor the questions of ethics and of morality must be identified and addressed but, I fear,will not be solved. Yet, let us go on.

Thrilled with success of Doris Taylor in using Adult stem cells to repair and rejuvenate! Excited about scientific research. But just as i would object to a young child being used to harvest tissues, i don't want to see human embryos used in this way.

Great interview.

What she said about measuring the effects of mediation on the creation of stems cells is incredible. I hope further studies are done to verify this effect.

John I

I have not heard the program yet, however, I have some ethical questions I hope you will present to your listeners and to your guest. One of the most pressing issues we have in the world is overpopulation. If medicine is going to continue to prolong life more and more in our species, what is going to happen to the world when already we are overpopulated? Also, medical science could weaken our species to such a point that in the long run it could cause the opposite problem of wiping out huge numbers of people.

Re: stem cell program. It seems to me that whenever embryonic stem cell research is discussed, the process by which the eggs are obtained is not mentioned. Acquiring eggs is not as easy as obtaining sperm. It's an invasive process for women and I think this fact introduces more complexity than is usually admitted. I'm in favor of stem cell research and celebrate the possibilities women are putting their bodies on the line.

Re: stem cell program. It seems to me that whenever embryonic stem cell research is discussed, the process by which the eggs are obtained is not mentioned. Acquiring eggs is not as easy as obtaining sperm. It's an invasive process for women and I think this fact introduces more complexity than is usually admitted. I'm in favor of stem cell research and celebrate the possibilities women are putting their bodies on the line.

One of the most interesting stories. There is hope! I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that only stem cells would help my knee which no longer has any cartlidge. Maybe in my lifetime? I thought it would never occur in my lifetime.

Dear Krista, While I applaud your inclusion of the issue of stem cell research on the show, I am very disappointed by the fact that your guest provided a very limited and one-sided perspective of the moral issues inherent to the research. I am a 28-year juvenile diabetic and a health lawyer. Among other things, I research and lecture on bioethical issues, including the issue of embryonic stem cell research (referencing various faith and legal perspectives on the issue). Your guest portrayed the issue as if the "fertilized egg" is not an embryo that is a complete genetic human entity. In addition, she portrayed that once people of faith (at churches, etc.) understand the science, they then do not equate it with abortion, or the destruction of prenatal human life. This is incorrect and a very simplified and one-sided view of the deep ethical issues. I think it is both irresponsible and disingenuous for you to present a highly multi-faceted to pic in such a surface and limited review. I suggest that you provide a well-rounded follow-up to your program that includes the profound moral dilemmas raised by embryonic stem cell research for people of various faith perspectives. Thank you, Jerri Nims Rooker

Ms. Taylor is beyond doubt an extremely gifted scientist. I marvel at her discoveries and insights. However, I am not persuaded that her undisputed scientific and technical expertise confer legitimacy on her view of fertilized human eggs as "tools" to be used in her research. While I have no doubt that Ms. Taylor earnestly believes that her work has the potential to yield great benefit to humanity, it is apt to remember that the end, however noble, does not justify the means. Was it coincidence that this interview was aired on what we Catholics have declared to be "Respect Life Sunday?" If so, what irony.

Doris Taylor seems to think that if Americans only knew that the stem cells that she is using for her research came only from fertized (human) eggs, not from fetuses after abortion, that they would not have objections. If she really has so much faith in the power of the cell that she praises, then she should also appreciate the human cell that she is using for research.

The fertilized egg is a human being and those frozen fertilized eggs can be nothing but human beings unless they are destroyed for her research. And I for one - do object to that. Any "cures" found through this research, in my opinion, would not be worth the price of destroying the very beginning of human life. Let's turn our research and efforts to adult stem cells that have already proven to much more effective than those taken from destroyed embryos, and there is no ethical dilema.

The discussion with Doris Taylor was very interesting and thought provoking. It is generally inspiring to hear a thoughtful person who is passionate about their work. I've always found the fact that individual heart cells isolated in a petri dish begin to beat in synch when brought together points toward the cor(e) of the deepest mystery. And bodies are just so amazing. I was intriqued by Doris's theory of againg, and possible theory of cancer, and the recasting of basic biological assumptions through the lens of stem cells. I'm grateful for how she has advanced understanding. And it was good to put stem cells into context.

Two things that Doris said made my brow furrow, though. Several times she said that we had been given this tool and we had to use it. Keeping to her metaphor, I do not feel that just because I was been given a hammer I should go around pounding on things. I take it out for very particular jobs, and am content to let it lie unused most of the time.

And when you asked how she felt about the strip mining quote, she got a bit agitated and gave lots of images of sick and dying people and seemed to feel that they had to be saved from disease and death. I can see why one would want to help people, but the idea that we should try to fix disease and death doesn't sit well with me. Do we do this for all creatures or only humans? And when we have all these people (and other creatures)who have been spared from aging and sickness, and everybody still reproducing, don't we end up with standing room only pretty quickly? What about the waiting-to-become--shouldn't they get a turn?

The Doris Taylor story has been eclipsed by the stunning article this
morning in the Washington Post of Harvard researchers being able to use mRNA to
use skin cells to duplicate the same processes as embrionic stem cells. Also,
these stem cells are patient specific making transplant rejection less likely.


Let me start by saying that I'm a big fan of the show.. I am a neurosciences PhD
student and rely on podcasts to make routine labwork go by more quickly-
Being/SOF is fantastic and I look forward to it weekly.

While I do neurosciences, half of the lab that I work in is devoted to stem cell
research. I just re-listened to your interview with Doris Taylor and was
disturbed by a couple of inaccuracies. First, she describes embryonic stem cells
(ESCs) as being fertilized eggs. This makes most people think of a single cell
with a sperm that has just landed in it. However, ESCs are removed from the
embryo when it is about 150 cells. This might seem nitpicky, and it is true that
an embryo at the 150 cell stage is quite early in development, but I still
thought it was misleading to the general public to describe ESCs as fertilized

Much more troubling of an inaccuracy: research is indeed conducted on human
fetal stem cells (not just embryonic), and some are derived from aborted
fetuses. It is no less than untrue to say otherwise. I don't have statistics as
to the percentage of labs that do work with human fetal stem cells vs human
embryonic stem cells, but I'm sure that while it is relatively low, it is most
certainly not zero.

Personally, I am troubled by the use of human stem cells, while I also can
acknowledge their therapeutic potential. I think communicating truthfully with
the general public about what our research consists in is so important-- science
is advancing so quickly compared to the informed ethical discourse that ought to
surround it.

To end on a positive note, the most massive advance in the last 2 or 3 years in
the stem cell field has been the advent of induced pluripotent stem cells
(iPSCs). These are differentiated cells from an adult (such as our skin or blood
cells) that can be turned back into stem cells! This is really exciting for
several reasons but most relevant to this podcast is the fact that it seems
likely that they will supplant embryonic or fetal stem cells for therapeutic and
perhaps basic science uses.

Best regards,


I'm looking at your website on the Stem Cells show I heard this weekend and I'm confused. Almost all the reflection and comment on it dates from nearly a year ago. I don't think I heard that this was a rebroadcast. Was it? If not, how is all this reaction gathered such a long time before the topic aired?

I loved the story with Dr. Doris Taylor about the stem cell research. I have to say, listening to her explanation of stem cell use has made me feel better about supporting it. I've always been a big supporter of stem cell research, but worried about my support being wrong religiously. This new information from Taylor about how they get their stem cells makes me feel that much stronger about the support. I was so excited about what I learned that I called several friends who have argued with me about the support and asked them to listen and to view the website's information. Thank you for an amazing interview and for providing that storyline!

Most telling in the interview with Doris Taylor I found her answer to William Saletan’s question: “How far should we strip-mine humanity in order to save it?” I wish her initial pause would have been longer and her following monolog, never interrupted by a hopefully incredulous Krita, shorter.
I admit that Saletan’s question was phrased to elicit contradiction rather than thoughtful reflection; but Dr. Taylor must have pondered the essence of this question before.
I was shocked to see her describe her opponents as superstitious, religious fundamentalists, without acknowledging that religions have thought to address the question at hand for millennia in a profound and meaningful way.
Her unfaltering faith in progress of science and technology needs a good dose of John Gray’s “Straw Dogs.” After her trip to the pediatric ICU and the visit with myelodysplatic and cerebral palsy kids and their parents she ought to join Krista’s guest from the week before, Nicholas Kristof, in Africa to gain a bigger view of the world.
After her stem cell conquer the atrophy of the telomere and our ultimate dream of immortality is reality, could that new reality, now as unthinkable as the human genome was 30 years ago, could it invite some social problems? Or should we better not think about that?

Last week's program with Doris Taylor re: stem cells simply blew me away..I have re-listened to it twice and before your next broadcast on Sun Morning I will re-listen to it again...In her wirds it was a "wow" moment for me...her explanations were so clear, so inciteful and so filled with awe and wonder and gratefulness for me..grateful that you are who you are, that she is who she is and that I am who I am...I too know we are all interconnected and on every level...but she saw it there on the petri dish, the beating of life at probably the most basic level any one will ever "Doris, it's beating"...another wow moment...and meditation after 15 minutes and the cell stem reverses and lengthens many least one person who heads a very large group of former Catholics who are attempting to bring the Catholic Hierarchy up to date is attempting to list her on an international conference itinerary as a head speaker afte r I told her about Doris Taylor...Thanks and again "wow" I'll talk about Doris and your show at chapel Sunday...I am certain everyone there will want to hear about cell stems and Ms Doris Taylor...Roger Ethier, Director, Engineers Without Borders Int, Shepherdatown, WV.

"Doris, it's beating" - how wonderful and hopeful for all of us! I hope that the detail of this information spreads so work is encouraged. That people tend to care when it touches them personally is very true. What a great show-thanks!

This was a great interview with Doris Taylor who does research at the U of M. She had a major break through in 2008 and was able to bring back to life a dead rats heart. Doris explains that the process was basic. They took a dead rats heart and essentially washed out all of the dead cells. She said they actually used shampoo soap! Then they injected stem cells and 8 days later, viola! The heart was alive again!

Doris went on to explain what this means for science, medicine and the human body. Stem cells have the ability to generate into any human organ, skin as well. Recently (in the past few years) it has been discovered that bone marrow is made up of stem cells. So when a bone marrow transplant is done it is basically a stem cell transplant. The use of stem cells will eventually lead to cancer cures and a stasis in aging.Doris was very careful to explain that these cells being used for research such as this do NOT come from abortions. They are simply fertilized eggs that have been donated for research reasons. Cells from an abortion do not help in this research because the stem cell already have organ cells.

Every human body has stem cells. These cells regenerate themselves every time we are sick or get hurt. Until one day they can no longer do this. Then we begin to get old. The stem cells that we have as adults can only regenerate so many times and then they die. According to Doris if we reduce our stress by doing things such as meditation then it is possible to stay younger,healthier longer because it helps to keep us from using up our stem cell supply to quickly. Doris did an experiments with Matthieu Ricard who is a french philosopher Buddhist. While he meditated she was able to measure cells in his blood before and after meditation. After meditating for 15 minutes there was a huge increase in positive stem cells!

I personally found this awesome. In no way did I feel like my morals were being tested while I listened to the interview. I am currantly a nurse and this is a hot topic(has been) in the medical industry. Nature has given us the tools to be able to cure ourselves. We just need to love ourselves enough to adhere to them.

This broadcast features Doris Taylor, a scientist who specializes in stem cell research. She is responsible for bringing back to life the heart of a dead animal using stem cells. What they did was removed the old cells from the dead heart and added new cells to it. Days later, the heart began to beat again. The topic of stem cells is very touchy because of the moral views. Taylor says that a lot of the apprehension of stem cell research comes from misunderstanding of what the actual process is and the media using the wrong terminology. An example of this is when they say fetal stem cells, which are the cells of a fetus that had already began developing. They don’t use the cells from fetuses, they use the cells from fertilized eggs that have been donated. The original intent for those eggs is for in vitro fertilization. If the eggs are not used for a certain amount of time, they are thrown out anyway.

People think it’s a moral issue because people think it is playing God in a way. Think about it, we are bringing dead organs back to life. Stem cells have the ability to repair tissue and regenerate themselves. This is great for medical reasons because they can use this for treatment of an assortment of diseases. Taylor says that we can also use stem cells to slow down aging and possibly even reverse the aging process. I personally think that aging is a natural process and God intended for us to age, but at the same time, I agree with parts of the research as far as the treatment of disease.

I thought this podcast was very informative. I fell into what many people probably think of when they think of stem cells. I had the impression that stem cells were used from unwanted embryos more in an abortion type scenario, or embryo bank. I was unaware that they were really taken from an in vitro facility that the embryo was now not going to be used or otherwise had some kind of defect. The fact that they are taken in this way really does help my ethical thoughts on stem cell research. Being able to make a heart beat on its own sounds remarkable to me. Another thing I thought was almost just as important was on the readings of stem cells after one meditates. From what I knew the research thus far was just that stress management and meditation people know worked, but how it worked was a whole different ball game. To actually associate stem cell activity improving during times like these is just a step closer to understanding more about how the human body works. I also thought it was interesting that bone marrow transplant really was an injection of stem cells, although that part of it was not known until recent.

I am suffering from a genetic disorder that I was told that it will never have cure. With this research I found hope, a hope for me and my future generation. I will always support the research or the treatment of the Stem cell.

I'm planning on taking a chemistry class next semester in school. Do you think we would learn more about stem cell research in the class? I would know more about what other types of research is happening for stem cells.