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Irving Weissman, Research Pioneer

November 18, 2004 -- By Sarah Alexander, College of Letters & Science

College Office

When Irving Weissman (’61, Pre-medicine; ’92, Honorary Doctorate) entered Montana State University as a freshman, he had already worked as a research assistant at the McLaughlin Research Institute in Great Falls and co-authored two scientific papers. By the time he graduated, his interest in understanding and treating disease had matured into a life-long pursuit.

Currently the director of the Institute for Cancer and Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Stanford University, Dr. Weissman is known for his ground-breaking research in biology. He pioneered the science of isolating blood-forming stem cells from mice, and in collaboration with others discovered human stem cells that produce blood cell progenitors and nervous tissue. In January 2003, Weissman announced that the Stanford Institute would create new human embryonic stem cell lines through nuclear transfer.

Recently, Dr. Weissman served as head of a National Academy of Sciences panel to make recommendations to Congress on the science of human cloning and stem-cell research. The panel recommended a legally enforceable ban on human reproductive cloning, but not on nuclear transplantation to produce stem cells. In his testimony, Weissman stated, “This research can potentially cure many fatal diseases.”

Dr. Weissman’s ties to Montana remain strong. In addition to serving on the McLaughlin Institute’s Advisory Board, he brings a group of research students to his family’s cabin for a yearly team-building retreat. In addition, he often hosts scientists from around the world to share in his other great passion, fly-fishing. Weissman has also established a student scholarship in MSU’s Department of Microbiology.

Read more about Dr. Weissman: On the Edge Share by Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

Updated: 04/15/2011