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Monday, May 18, 2009

Congratulations, Eugenie Scott & Andras Nagy

Regular readers of this blog will recognize more than few names on the Scientific American 10, an honor roll that recognizes 10 people who "have recently demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity."
On the list, along with celebrities like President Barack Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Bill Gates, are Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, and Dr. Andras Nagy, a researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
Scott was recognized for her "tireless advocacy to ensure that evolution, the cornerstone of all modern biology, is taught correctly in the nation's public schools," says John Rennie, Scientific American's editor in chief.
As the magazine notes:

"Thomas Henry Huxley was the 19th-century biologist known as 'Darwin's bulldog' for his defense of the great scientist's ideas. The 21st century has a counterpart in the woman who describes herself as 'Darwin's golden retriever.' Eugenie Scott has emerged as one of the most prominent advocates for keeping evolution an integral part of the curriculum in public schools. ... With the ever changing semantics of antievolutionists, Darwin's golden retriever will have plenty more chances to act as a loyal defender of teaching evolution in the schools."
Nagy, for his part, made headlines earlier this year when he and his team of researchers found a new way to use skin cells to create stem cells that are pluripotent (can become nearly any tissue in the body). These cells appear to provide the same potential as embryonic stem cells—without the moral debate surrounding the creation and destruction of embryos.
As the magazine sums it up:
"In effect, Nagy and his colleagues had, for the first time, created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells that were uncontroversially ethical, safe and efficient—a significant advance toward being able to use them in patients in a clinic."
Kudos to Scott, Nagy, and the rest of the Scientific American 10. —Heather Wax