TH Alum Hugh Bender Addresses Forum on Stem Cell Research

On February 23, 2010 Hugh Bender made Forum history by being the first Tower Hill graduate to participate in the Forum series to have attended the forums while he was a student at Tower Hill. Hugh used the previous speakers Dr. John Pierce and Dr. Gabrielle Rappolt Schlichtmann to lay a foundation for his lecture on stem cells. He explained the strengths, the weaknesses, and the ethics behind three distinct types of stem cells. He distinguished between using stem cells for therapy and just studying them. The three varieties he talked about were Embryonic, Adult and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Embryonic are totipotent and have the ability to become any cell in the body. The draw backs with these cells are they also have the potential to be cancerous and they destroy life. Adult stems cells are pluripotent and are limited to becoming the organ they were harvested from. They do not engage the ethical dilema that embryonic stem cells elicit, but they raise the question "who owns the cells after they leave the body of the donor?" Induced Pluripotent stem cells are the alternative to embryonic stem cells but they have some of the same drawbacks that both adult and embryonic have. They have the potential to be cancerous and they also raise the same question "who owns the cells after they leave the donor's body?" Hugh Bender ended his lecture by reminding us that stem cells are not "the" miracle cure. Articles about stem cells are generally exaggerated. Stem cells are vital in confronting current medical issues, and a balance can be achieved between the ethical issues and the potential theraputic uses.

Sam Greenberg - Class of 2010