Robert Lanza

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Lanza, Robert Paul (1956– )

Dr. Lanza is Vice President of Medical and Stem Cell Development for Advance Cell Technology, a biotechnology company in Worcester, Massachusetts, that is engaged in regenerative medicine.

He has several hundred scientific publications and patents, and 16 books, including Principles of Tissue Engineering (1st and 2nd Editions), Methods of Tissue Engineering, Principles of Cloning, XENO, Yearbook of Cell & Tissue Transplantation, One World: The Health & Survival of the Human Species in the 21st Century (as editor, with forewords by C. Everett Koop and former President Jimmy Carter), and Medical Science & the Advancement of World Health.

Dr. Lanza received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a University Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied as a student in the laboratory of Richard Hynes (MIT), Jonas Salk (The Salk Institute), and Nobel laureates Gerald Edelman (Rockefeller University) and Rodney Porter (Oxford University). He also worked closely (and coauthored a series of papers) with the late Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner and heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard. Dr. Lanza's current area of research focuses on the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine.

On 6 September 2006, he testified before the Senate Labor, Health & Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, focusing on support for wider availability of human embryonic stem cells for basic medical research. Dr. Lanza is the principle author of a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, one in which he described a technique for developing human embryonic stem cells with a single-cell biopsy technique called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). He testified that this technique is not harmful to embryos, declaring,

  • Our hope is that the new method we described in Nature can be used to increase the number of cell lines that qualify for federal funding within the framework of existing U.S. laws and regulations.

His findings have been disputed by Michael Fumento in The Post Chronicle, who wrote,

  • In fact none of the 16 embryos involved in the study by medical director Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) survived. All were harmed; none were viable; none were spared. When a member of ACT's research advisory panel, Ronald Green, told the Washington Post "You can honestly say this cell line is from an embryo that was in no way harmed or destroyed," he couldn't have been more dishonest. For all the media mania, you'd never know the Lanza publication was just a 200-word letter that spent as much verbiage on theory as on actually describing the experiment. As such, Nature had no business running it.

Wesley J. Smith, in The Daily Standard, also found that the reports of a major breakthrough in the science of stem cells were premature and wrong.

Lanza immediately defended his work and the company's statements. "Our paper is 100 percent correct," referring to the highly publicized article that appeared in the 24 August 2006 issue of the journal Nature.

He has been an associate in surgery at the Harvard Medical School and senior scientist at BioHybrid Technologies in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and he has contributed material to The American Rationalist as well as to The Humanist.