Three Harvard faculty members – a geneticist, an economist, and a stem cell biologist – are on the 2006 “Scientific American 50,” Scientific American magazine’s annual list of science and technology leaders.
Scientific American editor in chief John Rennie explained that the list “pays tribute to individuals and organizations who, through their efforts in research, business, and policy-making, are driving advances in science and technology that lay groundwork for a better future. Not only does our list honor these prime movers – it shines a spotlight on the critical fields that are benefiting from their achievements.”
George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and member of the faculty of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, was named to the list for his contribution to efforts using “off-the-shelf” technology to greatly reduce the cost of DNA sequencing. The magazine says that Church’s work with colleagues at Harvard and Washington University, St. Louis, “may help realize the federal goal of reducing [the price of sequencing] to $1,000 by 2015, which, experts say, would make it practical to decode a person’s genes for routine medical purposes.”
Michael R. Kremer, the Gates Professor of Developing Societies and professor of economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), earned a place on the “Scientific American 50” for developing a vaccine development model that could reduce the cost of vaccines in poor countries. “Kremer’s approach,” the magazine explains in its December issue, “is one of many that have marshaled unprecedented creativity to chart new paths for medical research.”
And Kevin Eggan, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology in FAS and principal faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, was cited for research in which he and colleagues fused embryonic stem cells with skin cells, creating fused cells resembling stem cells genetically matched to the donor skin cells. The work by Eggan’s group provides insights into the basic behavior of stem cells, and could conceivably someday lead to a way to produce embryonic stem cells without destroying blastocysts.