"Cool", "Clever", "Awesome": A 10 year old’s thumbs up for CIRM’s public meeting

Geoff Lomax is CIRM’s Senior Officer to the Standards Working Group 

Attendees talking around disease-focused posters at CIRM’s public meeting  last week

My 10 year old son attended the CIRM Public Meeting last week because he thought it would be cool to see what his dad has been up to and to learn more about stem cell science. He, and a number of his friends, have been obsessed with the wonderful book The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe. My son has taken a particular interest in the book’s description of radioisotopes their history and use in science. He even did a project recently describing Marie Curie’s pioneering work using radiation in medicine. I explained that imaging is a big part of stem cell research and that the scientist at the Public Meeting would be showing images of cell development.

Sure enough a stand out moment for him at the public meeting was when Mark Tuszynski from UC San Diego showed images of cell regeneration in rats treated for spinal cord injury. My son thought the color enhanced image of regeneration was “really cool.” One of the scientist did remind him after the talk that “we are no longer using radioactive isotopes for this work because they could damage the cells.” No worries, in the eyes of a ten-year -old it is all good.

He was also very impressed by the video discussing the progress of Viacyte in developing a cell therapy for diabetes (you can watch that here). The video profiled the story of two diabetics, Sarah and Chris. He thought it must be hard to monitor blood glucose all the time. Both my son and wife were really impressed by the information presented by Eugene Brandon on Viacyte’s progress. The whole process of building an “envelope” to keep insulin producing cells alive in the body was “amazingly clever.”

He also thought the scientists who were available to discuss their work are “really nice” and did a great job of “making the science understandable.”

While the science and progress toward therapies was clearly a hit, there were many other highlights for a ten-year-old going to downtown San Francisco on a school night. First, and foremost, the salami was “really good” along with the other nice snacks provided at the session. What would a trip to the Hyatt Embarcadero be without an elevator ride? The elevators were perhaps the biggest hit and when we got to the 14th floor we were able to see the Bay Bridge Lights which was “really awesome.”

So the CIRM Public Meeting was a “good salami, really cool, amazingly clever, really awesome” experience for a ten year old. We hope you and your family can attend our next public event.


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