Irving Lerner Weissman, born in 1939, helped pioneer the first generation of post–World War II stem cell research, specifically, the study of blood cells, and became, in the process, one of the field’s most passionate advocates of the importance of applying laboratory biological research to specific medical treatments. He emerged during the early 2000s as one of the most passionate—and most public—defenders of stem cell research against emerging moral and religious objections, propagated, he argued, by extremists more interested in political gains, symbolic judicial victories, or adhering to narrow religious doctrine than in medical advances. Rather, he advocated tight government controls and carefully monitored research data as a kind of compromise to maintain the hope for medical advances, particularly in the field of cancer ...

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