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Robert Lanza

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Robert P. Lanza
Robert Lanza in laboratory.JPG
Lanza at a laboratory in October 2009.
Robert Lanza

(1956-02-11) 11 February 1956 (age 66)
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
Known forStem cell biology, cloning,
tissue engineering, biocentric universe
Scientific career
InstitutionsAstellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine
InfluencesJonas Salk, Christiaan Barnard,
and B. F. Skinner

Robert Lanza (born 11 February 1956 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American medical doctor and scientist, currently Head of Astellas Global Regenerative Medicine,[1][2] and Chief Scientific Officer of the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He is an Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.[3][4][failed verification]

Early life and education[edit]

Lanza was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up south of there, in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Lanza "altered the genetics of chickens in his basement", and came to the attention of Harvard Medical School researchers when he appeared at the university with his results. Jonas Salk, B. F. Skinner, and Christiaan Barnard mentored Lanza over the next ten years.[5] Lanza attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving BA and MD degrees. There, he was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar and a University Scholar. Lanza was also a Fulbright Scholar. He currently resides in Clinton, Massachusetts.[citation needed]


Lanza being interviewed by Barbara Walters in 2007.

Stem cell research[edit]

Lanza was part of the team that cloned the world's first early stage human embryos,[6][7] as well as the first to successfully generate stem cells from adults using somatic-cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning).[8][9]

Lanza demonstrated that techniques used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis could be used to generate embryonic stem cells without embryonic destruction.[10]

In 2001, he was also the first to clone an endangered species (a Gaur),[11] and in 2003, he cloned an endangered wild ox (a Banteng)[12] from the frozen skin cells of an animal that had died at the San Diego Zoo nearly a quarter-of-a-century earlier.

Lanza and his colleagues were the first to demonstrate that nuclear transplantation could be used to extend the lifespan of certain cells[13] and to generate immune-compatible tissues, including the first organ grown in the laboratory from cloned cells.[14]

Lanza showed that it is feasible to generate functional oxygen-carrying red blood cells from human embryonic stem cells under conditions suitable for clinical scale-up. The blood cells could potentially serve as a source of "universal" blood.[15][16]

His team discovered how to generate functional hemangioblasts (a population of "ambulance" cells[17]) from human embryonic stem cells. In animals, these cells quickly repaired vascular damage, cutting the death rate after a heart attack in half and restoring the blood flow to ischemic limbs that might otherwise have required amputation.[18]

In 2012 Lanza and a team led by Kwang-Soo Kim at Harvard University reported a method for generating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by incubating them with proteins, instead of genetically manipulating the cells to make more of those proteins.[19][20][21]

Clinical trials for blindness[edit]

Lanza's team at Advanced Cell Technology were able to generate retinal pigmented epithelium cells from stem cells, and subsequent studies found that these cells could restore vision in animal models of macular degeneration.[22][23] With this technology, some forms of blindness could potentially be treatable.[24]

In 2010, ACT received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials of a pluripotent stem cell-based treatment for use in people with degenerative eye diseases.[25][26] In 2011 ACT received approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to use its PSC-based cell therapy in the UK; this was the first approval to study a PSC-based treatment in Europe.[27][28] The first person received the embryonic stem cell treatment in the UK in 2012.[29]

The results of the first two clinical trials were published in the Lancet in 2012,[30] with a follow up paper in 2014,[31] which provided the first published reports of the long-term safety and possible biologic activity of pluripotent stem cell progeny into humans.[32]


In 2007 Lanza's article "A New Theory of the Universe" appeared in The American Scholar.[33] The essay proposed Lanza's idea of a biocentric universe, which places biology above the other sciences.[34][35][36] Lanza's book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the Universe followed in 2009, co-written with Bob Berman.[37]

Lanza's biocentric hypothesis met with a mixed reception.[38] Nobel laureate in medicine E. Donnall Thomas stated that "Any short statement does not do justice to such a scholarly work. The work is a scholarly consideration of science and philosophy that brings biology into the central role in unifying the whole."[1] Arizona State University physicist and antitheist activist Lawrence Krauss stated: "There are no scientific breakthroughs about anything, as far as I can see. It may represent interesting philosophy, but it doesn't look, at first glance, as if it will change anything about science."[1] In USA Today Online, astrophysicist and science writer David Lindley asserted that Lanza's concept was a "...vague, inarticulate metaphor..." and stated that "...I certainly don't see how thinking his way would lead you into any new sort of scientific or philosophical insight. That's all very nice, I would say to Lanza, but now what?"[39] Daniel Dennett, a Tufts University philosopher and eliminative materialist, said he did not think the concept meets the standard of a philosophical theory. "It looks like an opposite of a theory, because he doesn't explain how [consciousness] happens at all. He's stopping where the fun begins."[1]

Lanza subsequently published several books that further developed his concept of biocentrism including a 2016 book, Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death, and a third, The Grand Biocentric Design: How Life Creates Reality, written with Bob Berman and theoretical physicist Matej Pavšič, and published in 2020.[37][40][41]

Awards and public commentary[edit]

Lanza has received numerous awards and other recognition, including:

  • TIME Magazine’s 2014 Time 100 list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World"[42]
  • Prospect magazine 2015 list of “Top 50 World Thinkers”[43]
  • 2013 “Il Leone di San Marco Award in Medicine” (Italian Heritage and Culture Committee, along with Regis Philbin, who received the award in Entertainment)[44]
  • 2010 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Award for “Translating Basic Science Discoveries into New and Better Treatments”[45]
  • 2010 “Movers and Shakers” Who Will Shape Biotech Over the Next 20 Years (BioWorld, along with Craig Venter and President Barack Obama)[46]
  • 2006 Mass High Tech journal “All Star” award for biotechnology for “pushing stem cells’ future”[47][48]


  1. ^ a b c d Herper, Matthew. "A Biotech Provocateur Takes On Physics". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  2. ^ "Ocata's chief scientific officer to join new parent after acquisition". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  3. ^ "Robert P. Lanza | American scientist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  4. ^ "Robert Lanza (1956- ) | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  5. ^ Fischer, Joannie (2001-11-25). "The First Clone". U.S. News & World Report. 131 (23): 50–4, 57–8, 60–3. PMID 11765373. Archived from the original on 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  6. ^ Cibelli, Jose B.; Lanza, Robert P.; West, Michael D.; Ezzell, Carol (2001-11-24). "The First Human Cloned Embryo". Scientific American. 286 (1): 44–51. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0102-44. PMID 11799617. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  7. ^ "Wired 12.01: Seven Days of Creation". 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  8. ^ Cell Stem Cell (2014). "Access : Human somatic cell nuclear transfer using adult cells". Cell Stem Cell. Cell Press. 14 (6): 777–780. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2014.03.015. PMID 24746675.
  9. ^ Naik, Gautam (2014-04-17). "Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
  10. ^ Nature (2006). "Access : Human embryonic stem cell lines derived from single blastomeres". Nature. 444 (7118): 481–485. doi:10.1038/nature05142. PMID 16929302. S2CID 84792371.
  11. ^ "Cloning Noah's Ark: Scientific American". 2000-11-19. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  12. ^ "Wild Cows Cloned". NPR. 2003-04-08. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  13. ^ Robert P. Lanza, Jose B. Cibelli, Catherine Blackwell, Vincent J. Cristofalo, Mary Kay Francis, Gabriela M. Baerlocher, Jennifer Mak, Michael Schertzer, Elizabeth A. Chavez, Nancy Sawyer, Peter M. Lansdorp, Michael D. West1 (28 April 2000). "Extension of Cell Life-Span and Telomere Length in Animals Cloned from Senescent Somatic Cells" (PDF). Science. 288 (5466): 665–669. Bibcode:2000Sci...288..665L. doi:10.1126/science.288.5466.665. PMID 10784448.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Lanza, Robert P. (2002). "Generation of histocompatible tissues using nuclear transplantation". Nature Biotechnology. 20 (7): 689–696. doi:10.1038/nbt703. PMID 12089553. S2CID 23007326.
  15. ^ Lu, SJ; Feng, Q; Park, JS; Vida, L; Lee, BS; Strausbauch, M; Wettstein, PJ; Honig, GR; Lanza, R (2008). "Blood - Biological properties and enucleation of red blood cells from human embryoni". Blood. 112 (12): 4475–84. doi:10.1182/blood-2008-05-157198. PMC 2597123. PMID 18713948.
  16. ^ [1] Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Vergano, Dan (2007-05-08). "Elusive 'ambulance' cells are created -". Usatoday.Com<!. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  18. ^ Lu, S. J.; Feng, Q.; Caballero, S.; Chen, Y.; Moore, M. A.; Grant, M. B.; Lanza, R. (2007). "Generation of functional hemangioblasts from human embryonic stem cells". Nature Methods. 4 (6): 501–509. doi:10.1038/nmeth1041. PMC 3766360. PMID 17486087.
  19. ^ Park, Alice (2009-05-28). "Researchers Hail Stem Cells Safe for Human Use". TIME. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  20. ^ ROCKOFF, JONATHAN (2012-12-13). "Stem-Cell Trial Without Embryo Destruction". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  21. ^ Kim, Dohoon (2009). "Cell Stem Cell - Generation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells by Direct Delivery of Reprogramming Proteins". Cell Stem Cell. 4 (6): 472–476. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2009.05.005. PMC 2705327. PMID 19481515.
  22. ^ Lund, R. D.; Wang, S.; Klimanskaya, I.; Holmes, T.; Ramos-Kelsey, R.; Lu, B.; Girman, S.; Bischoff, N.; Sauvé, Y.; Lanza, R. (2006-09-29). "Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Cells Rescue Visual Function in Dystrophic RCS Rats – Cloning Stem Cells". Cloning and Stem Cells. 8 (3): 189–99. doi:10.1089/clo.2006.8.189. PMID 17009895. S2CID 12566730.
  23. ^ "Stem Cells May Open Some Eyes". 2004-09-24. Archived from the original on August 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  24. ^ "Two Patients Undergo Stem-Cell Blindness Treatment". Technology Review. 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  25. ^ "FDA Approves Second Trial of Stem-Cell Therapy". TIME. 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  26. ^ "Second human embryonic stem cell clinical trial to start". USA Today. 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  27. ^ Sample, Ian (2011-09-22). "First trial of embryonic stem cell treatment in Europe gets green light". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
  28. ^ "First European Embryonic Stem Cell Trial Gets Green Light". TIME. 2011-09-22. Retrieved 2011-09-22.
  29. ^ Boseley, Sarah (2012-06-04). "Stem cell scientists take hope from first human trials but see long road ahead". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  30. ^ Schwartz, SD; et al. (25 February 2012). "Embryonic stem cell trials for macular degeneration: a preliminary report". Lancet. 379 (9817): 713–20. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60028-2. PMID 22281388. S2CID 2230787. open access
  31. ^ Schwartz, SD; et al. (2014-10-15). "Human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium in patients with age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt's macular dystrophy". Lancet. 385 (9967): 509–16. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61376-3. PMID 25458728. S2CID 85799.
  32. ^ "Stem Cells Allow Nearly Blind Patients to See". TIME. 2014-10-14. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  33. ^ "A New Theory of the Universe: Biocentrism builds on quantum physics by putting life into the equation" (Spring). The American Scholar. 2007. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  34. ^ Aaron Rowe (2009-01-04). "Will Biology Solve the Universe?". Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  35. ^ "Theory of every-living-thing - Cosmic Log -". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  36. ^ "Robert Lanza - Tag Story Index -". 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  37. ^ a b Lanza, Robert; Berman, Bob (April 14, 2009). Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe. BenBella Books. ISBN 978-1-933771-69-4.
  38. ^ Log, Cosmic. "The universe in your head". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  39. ^ "Exclusive: Response to Robert Lanza's essay". Usatoday.Com. 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
  40. ^ Lanza, Robert; Berman, Bob (May 3, 2016). Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death. BenBella Books. ISBN 978-1942952213.
  41. ^ Lanza, Robert; Pavsic, Matej (November 17, 2020). The Grand Biocentric Design: How Life Creates Reality. BenBella Books. ISBN 978-1950665402.
  42. ^ "TIME: The 100 Most Influential People - Robert Lanza". 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  43. ^ "World Thinkers 2015: Robert Lanza". 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  44. ^ "ACT's Dr. Robert Lanza to Receive the Il Leone di San Marco Award in Medicine". 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  45. ^ "Stem cell leaders Lanza, Kim win $1.9M NIH award". 2010-09-22. Archived from the original on 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
  46. ^ "Advanced Cell Technology's Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Robert Lanza Honored By BioWorld Magazine As Leader Who Could Shape Biotech Over Next 20 Years". 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  47. ^ "Dr. Robert Lanza Receives 2006 'All Star' Award for Biotechnology. Industry & Business Article - Research, News, Information, Contacts, Divisions, Subsidiaries, Business Associations". 2006-10-24. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  48. ^ Songini, Marc (August 14, 2009). "Thought Leaders:Robert Lanza on stem cells and access to health care". Mass High Tech. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2010. He was named a Mass High Tech All Star in 2006

External links[edit]