Stem cell researcher to give Killian Award Lecture this month

One week from Tuesday, on September 28, acclaimed biology professor and stem cell researcher Rudolph Jaenisch will give the annual James R. Killian award lecture in 10-250.

When you talk to stem cell researchers at MIT, as a one they point to Jaenisch (pronounced YAY-nish) as a leader in the field and his the name comes up repeatedly.

The Killian Faculty Achievement Award recognizes “the extraordinary professional accomplishments” of MIT faculty. Jaenisch received the award for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The Killian award is named after James R. Killian, Jr., who was president of MIT from 1948–1959, as well as Chairman of the Corporation from 1959–1971.

Jaenisch told The Tech that he is a strong proponent of doing stem cell work both with all three kinds of stem cells: adult stem cells; human embryonic stem cells, which are the subject of the legal debate; and induced pluripotent cells, which behave similarly to embryonic stem cells, but are produced from adult stem cells, so do not incur the same ethical objections that embryonic cells do.

Jaenisch said that through his work with embryonic stem cells it was possible to get “better lines,” and it was important to pursue work with embryonic stem cells to find cells that were more responsive to gene targetting and that were easier to grow without abnormalities.

Jaenisch called the Sherley court case “absurd,” saying about funding decisions: “We have a peer review system. You’re judged by the quality of your research.”

John A. Hawkinson