The Dawning of a New Era of Hope
Stem cell researcher Robert Lanza hopes to save thousands of lives — and for a long time this caused him to fear for his own… At the time, a doctor was threatened at a nearby fertility clinic, and a pipe bomb exploded at a bio lab in Boston. "Back then I thought that there was probably a 50-50 chance that I was going to get knocked off because I was so visible," says the doctor. "I said, okay, try to kill me — I'm still going to do what I think is right." In Lanza's case, doing what is "right" involves working with therapies based on human stem cells. The blind shall see again; the paralyzed shall walk again; the hemophiliac shall not bleed anymore. That may sound like something out of the Bible, but Lanza is no faith healer. In fact, the US business magazine Fortune called him "the standard-bearer for stem cell research." Lanza is often compared to the main character played by Matt Damon in the film "Good Will Hunting," a highly talented outsider who, like Lanza, comes from a humble background.
Initial Success: "We have some surprisingly good visual outcome," says Steven Schwartz, an eye surgeon at UCLA. He says that one of his patients can read a clock again and go shopping, while another can recognize colors again. Lanza is a "genius" and his work is "stellar," Schwartz says.