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Robert Lanza

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Robert P. Lanza
Lanza in 2009
Robert Lanza

(1956-02-11) 11 February 1956 (age 68)
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

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]

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.[4] 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,[5][6] as well as the first to successfully generate stem cells from adults using somatic-cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning).[7][8]

Lanza demonstrated that techniques used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis could be used to generate embryonic stem cells without embryonic destruction.[9]

In 2001, he was also the first to clone an endangered species (a Gaur),[10] and in 2003, he cloned an endangered wild ox (a Banteng)[11] 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[12] and to generate immune-compatible tissues, including the first organ grown in the laboratory from cloned cells.[13]

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.[14][15]

His team discovered how to generate functional hemangioblasts (a population of "ambulance" cells[16]) 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.[17]

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.[18][19][20]

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.[21][22] With this technology, some forms of blindness could potentially be treatable.[23]

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.[24][25] 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.[26][27] The first person received the embryonic stem cell treatment in the UK in 2012.[28]

The results of the first two clinical trials were published in the Lancet in 2012,[29] with a follow-up paper in 2014,[30] which provided the first published reports of the long-term safety and possible biologic activity of pluripotent stem cell progeny into humans.[31]

Science policy activism[edit]

In 2001, Lanza initiated a letter to US president G.W.Bush, urging him to not block the first flow of federal dollars for research on human embryo cells. The letter was signed by 80 Nobel laureates from various areas of science and send to the White House by FAX, three weeks before a deadline to apply for NIH stem cell research grants.[32] This was in view of the intention by the Health and Human Services Secretary to revise the decision of the Clinton administration to generously fund stem cell research.


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] Former 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]

In January 2023, Lanza published a novel exploring biocentrism, Observer with science fiction author Nancy Kress.[42] Lanza said in an interview that he wanted "to bring [biocentrism] to life" in a story that would explain that "space, time, and the nature of life and death itself depends on the observer in us."[43]


  • Biocentrism, How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe (2009) – with Bob Berman
  • Beyond Biocentrism, Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death (2016) – with Bob Berman
  • The Grand Biocentric Design, How Life Creates Reality (2020) – with Matej Pavšič and Bob Berman

Awards and public commentary[edit]

Lanza has received numerous awards and other recognition, including:

  • 2006: named "Mass High Tech All Star" at the 11th annual award reception[44][45]
  • 2010: BioWorld (publication) hailed Lanza as a "stem cell pioneer" and recognized him as one of twenty-eight "movers and shakers" who would shape biotechnology over the next twenty years[46]
  • 2010: for research in "translating basic science discoveries into new and better treatments"; won a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Opportunity Award[47]
  • 2013: nominated to receive the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee of the Bronx and Westchester "Il Leone di San Marco Award in Medicine"[48][49]
  • 2014: included in the Time magazine Time 100 list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World"[50]
  • 2015: included in the Prospect magazine list of the "Top 50 World Thinkers"[51]


  1. ^ a b c d Herper, Matthew. "A Biotech Provocateur Takes On Physics". Forbes. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Ocata's chief scientific officer to join new parent after acquisition". Boston Globe. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Wake Forest University School of Medicine Adjunct Faculty". Wake Forest University: School of Medicine. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  4. ^ Fischer, Joannie (25 November 2001). "The First Clone". U.S. News & World Report. 131 (23): 50–4, 57–8, 60–3. PMID 11765373. Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  5. ^ Cibelli, Jose B.; Lanza, Robert P.; West, Michael D.; Ezzell, Carol (24 November 2001). "The First Human Cloned Embryo". Scientific American. 286 (1): 44–51. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0102-44. PMID 11799617. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  6. ^ "Wired 12.01: Seven Days of Creation". Wired. 4 January 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  7. ^ Chung, Young Gie; et al. (2014). "Human somatic cell nuclear transfer using adult cells". Cell Stem Cell. 14 (6). Cell Press: 777–780. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2014.03.015. PMID 24746675.
  8. ^ Naik, Gautam (17 April 2014). "Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  9. ^ Klimanskaya, Irina; et al. (2006). "Human embryonic stem cell lines derived from single blastomeres". Nature. 444 (7118): 481–485. Bibcode:2006Natur.444..481K. doi:10.1038/nature05142. PMID 16929302. S2CID 84792371.
  10. ^ "Cloning Noah's Ark: Scientific American". Scientific American. 19 November 2000. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  11. ^ "Wild Cows Cloned". NPR. 8 April 2003. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  12. ^ Lanza, Robert P.; et al. (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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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). Bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org: 4475–84. doi:10.1182/blood-2008-05-157198. PMC 2597123. PMID 18713948.
  15. ^ Henderson, Mark (20 August 2008). "Transfusion breakthrough as human blood grown from stem cells". Times Online. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008.
  16. ^ Vergano, Dan (8 May 2007). "Elusive 'ambulance' cells are created - USATODAY.com". USA Today. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Park, Alice (28 May 2009). "Researchers Hail Stem Cells Safe for Human Use". Time. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  19. ^ Rockoff, Jonathan (13 December 2012). "Stem-Cell Trial Without Embryo Destruction". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Lund, R. D.; Wang, S.; Klimanskaya, I.; Holmes, T.; Ramos-Kelsey, R.; Lu, B.; Girman, S.; Bischoff, N.; Sauvé, Y.; Lanza, R. (29 September 2006). "Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Cells Rescue Visual Function in Dystrophic RCS Rats – Cloning Stem Cells". Cloning and Stem Cells. 8 (3). Mary Ann Liebert: 189–99. doi:10.1089/clo.2006.8.189. PMID 17009895. S2CID 12566730.
  22. ^ "Stem Cells May Open Some Eyes". Wired. 24 September 2004. Archived from the original on 15 August 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  23. ^ "Two Patients Undergo Stem-Cell Blindness Treatment". Technology Review. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  24. ^ "FDA Approves Second Trial of Stem-Cell Therapy". Time. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  25. ^ "Second human embryonic stem cell clinical trial to start". USA Today. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  26. ^ Sample, Ian (22 September 2011). "First trial of embryonic stem cell treatment in Europe gets green light". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  27. ^ "First European Embryonic Stem Cell Trial Gets Green Light". Time. 22 September 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  28. ^ Boseley, Sarah (4 June 2012). "Stem cell scientists take hope from first human trials but see long road ahead". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  29. ^ 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 icon
  30. ^ Schwartz, SD; et al. (15 October 2014). "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.
  31. ^ "Stem Cells Allow Nearly Blind Patients to See". Time. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Nobel Laureates Back Stem Cell Research". The Washington Post. 22 February 2001. Retrieved 31 December 2023.
  33. ^ Lanza, Robert (1 March 2007). "A New Theory of the Universe: Biocentrism builds on quantum physics by putting life into the equation". The American Scholar. Spring 2007 issue
  34. ^ Aaron Rowe (4 January 2009). "Will Biology Solve the Universe?". Wired. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  35. ^ "Cosmic Log: Theory of Every-Living-Thing". Cosmic Log. Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2009 – via MSNBC.
  36. ^ "Robert Lanza - Tag Story Index". USA Today. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  37. ^ a b Lanza, Robert; Berman, Bob (14 April 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. ^ "The universe in your head". NBC News. Cosmic Log. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  39. ^ "Exclusive: Response to Robert Lanza's essay". USA Today. 9 March 2007. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  40. ^ Lanza, Robert; Berman, Bob (3 May 2016). Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death. BenBella Books. ISBN 978-1942952213.
  41. ^ Lanza, Robert; Pavšič, Matej (17 November 2020). The Grand Biocentric Design: How Life Creates Reality. BenBella Books. ISBN 978-1950665402.
  42. ^ Boyle, Alan (9 January 2023). "Sci-fi author and scientist team up to write a novel about consciousness and quantum weirdness". GeekWire. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  43. ^ Picker, Lenny (28 November 2022). "[Q&A]: PW Talks with Robert Lanza and Nancy Kress: I See, Therefore You Are". Publishers Weekly. Vol. 269, no. 50. p. 31.  – via EBSCO's Business Source Complete (subscription required)
  44. ^ "Dr. Robert Lanza Receives 2006 'All Star' Award For Biotechnology". BioSpace. 24 October 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  45. ^ Songini, Marc (14 August 2009). "Thought Leaders: Robert Lanza on stem cells and access to health care". Mass High Tech. Archived from the original on 15 August 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  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 Dr. Lanza Recognized as a "Stem Cell Pioneer"". CNBC. 10 May 2010. Archived from the original on 17 January 2021. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  47. ^ "Stem cell leaders Lanza, Kim win $1.9M NIH award". Mass High Tech. 22 September 2010. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  48. ^ "Advanced Cell Technology's Dr. Robert Lanza to Receive the Il Leone di San Marco Award in Medicine". BioSpace. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  49. ^ "ACT's Dr. Robert Lanza to Receive the Il Leone di San Marco Award in Medicine". Trove. 24 September 2013. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  50. ^ Park, Alice (23 April 2014). "Time: The 100 Most Influential People - Robert Lanza". Time. Archived from the original on 25 April 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  51. ^ "World Thinkers 2015: Robert Lanza". Prospect. 16 February 2015. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2023.

External links[edit]