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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,