Earlier this year CIRM grantee and stem cell blogger Paul Knoepfler requested nominations for his stem cell person of the year competition. In a video that accompanies his request, Knoepfler says he was hoping to honor someone other than the usual stodgy scientists—people who have gone out of their way to propel the field through legislation, advocacy, or in the case of some nominees through sheer force of personality (that’s you Roman Reed).
Knoepfler recently posted the top 16 in a veritable who’s who of stem cell notables. Some are scientists, but are nominated for their extra-scientific activities fighting stem cell tourism, others are bloggers, stem cell advocates, entrepreneurs, foundation directors, and patients fighting for cures.
It should also be noted that two CIRM folks were nominated, but Knoepfler put them out of the running due to conflicts of interest – he himself has CIRM funding. Elona Baum has worked tirelessly at CIRM to bring much-needed industry involvement into the stem cell field and Patricia Olson leads our scientific activities.
It’s fun to look down Knoepfler’s list and see familiar names, many of whom I’ve worked with while trying to tell CIRM’s story. Judy Roberson, Roman Reed, Don Reed, Jeanne Loring, Katie Sharify and Keri Kimler all grace videos on our YouTube channel (the links lead to their videos), and several of those people regularly show up to our meetings and advocate to our board for research funding.
I don’t envy Knoepfler the task of picking just one person from the list. We are lucky to work in a field that includes so many dedicated people pushing for stem cell-based therapies.