Stem cell person of the year: Roman Reed

Paul Knoepfler giving the Stem Cell Person of the Year award to Roman Reed

Late last year we told you about UC Davis researcher and avid blogger Dr. Paul Knoepfler’s decision to hold a “Stem Cell Person of the Year” contest (you can read that blog here). He invited people to nominate someone they thought had made a remarkable contribution to the field of stem cell research – not just in terms of the science, but in their overall work and inspiration. And he put up $1,000 of his own money as the prize.

Well, the votes are in. The decision has been made. And the 2012 Stem Cell Person of the Year is (drum roll please) Roman Reed.

In choosing Roman, Paul said he has inspired so many people, not just around California but also around the US:

“I would also say Roman has been an inspiration to me too and many others. One of Roman’s mottos is “A rising tide lifts all” and he doesn’t just say that, he lives it. He lifts up many others.”

You can read more about why Paul chose Roman on his blog.

Anyone who knows Roman and is familiar with the work he does will know this is a truly well deserved honor. He is the driving force behind so many programs, including the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act which funds research in California, and is a constant source of support for the work we do here at the stem cell agency. In fact, he has written several guest blog entries for us about spinal cord injury research and the role of the patient advocate.

He is an extraordinary man. And he had to be to beat out the competition, which included other patient advocates and activists such as his dad, Don Reed, Ted Harada, Judy Roberson and Katie Sharify – all great champions of stem cell research in their own right. Any one of them would have been a worthy winner.

What I liked best about the competition was that it included both scientists and non-scientists and highlighted the broad range of skills, talents, and individuals, who are helping drive the research forward and helping us all stay on target to deliver life-changing therapies.

Paul is already promising to do this award again for 2013, and to begin the nominating process even earlier so he can award the prize by the end of the year.

Paul ends his blog announcing the first winner of the Person of the Year award by saying: 2013 is going to be a banner year for stem cells. I think we all share that hope. And for Roman Reed, 2013 is already a year to remember.

Here is Roman in a video we produced about stem cell research for spinal cord injuries.


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