(photo: Andy Dayton)


56 reflections
read/add yours


Shortened URL

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.

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog


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.

About the Image

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

(photo: Andy Dayton)

Your Comments

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><span><div><img><!-->
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Embed content by wrapping a supported URL in [embed] … [/embed].

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


"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. www.greenandgoldtreeremovals.com.au


Voices on the Radio

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

Production Credits

Host/Producer: Krista Tippett

Managing Producer: Kate Moos

Associate Producer: Nancy Rosenbaum

Associate Producer: Shubha Bala

Technical Director/Producer: Chris Heagle

Senior Editor: Trent Gilliss