Robert Lanza

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Robert P. Lanza
Robert Lanza in laboratory.JPG
Lanza at a laboratory in October 2009.
Born Robert Lanza
(1956-02-11) February 11, 1956 (age 62)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Residence Clinton, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Known for Stem cell biology, cloning,
tissue engineering, biocentric universe
Scientific career
Institutions Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Influences Jonas Salk, Christiaan Barnard,
and B. F. Skinner

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

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 [needs citation] mentored Lanza over the next ten years.[2] 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.


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,[3][4] as well as the first to successfully generate stem cells from adults using somatic-cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning).[5][6]

Lanza demonstrated that techniques used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis could be used to generate embryonic stem cells without embryonic destruction.[7]

In 2001, he was also the first to clone an endangered species (a Gaur),[8] and in 2003, he cloned an endangered wild ox (a Banteng)[9] 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 reverse the aging process[10] and to generate immune-compatible tissues, including the first organ grown in the laboratory from cloned cells.[11]

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.[12][13]

His team discovered how to generate functional hemangioblasts (a population of "ambulance" cells[14]) 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.[15]

Recently, Lanza and a team led by Kwang-Soo Kim at Harvard University reported a safe method for generating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.[16] Human iPS cells were created from skin cells by direct delivery of proteins, thus eliminating the harmful risks associated with genetic and chemical manipulation. This new method provides a potentially safe source of patient-specific stem cells for translation into the clinic.[17] Lanza and Advanced Cell Technology expect to start the process for regulatory approval of what experts said would be the first human trial involving induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells created by reprogramming adult cells back to an embryonic-like state. They want to test blood-clotting particles, called platelets, made from such reprogrammed cells. Platelets don't carry the risk of genetic defects because they don't have DNA.[18]

Clinical trials for blindness[edit]

Lanza’s team at Advanced Cell Technology has succeeded in getting stem cells to grow into retinal cells.[19] With this technology, some forms of blindness may be curable,[20] including macular degeneration and Stargardt disease, currently untreatable eye diseases that cause blindness in teenagers, young adults, and the elderly.

Advanced Cell Technology has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for human trials using human embryonic stem cells to treat degenerative eye diseases.[21][22] This treatment for eye disease uses stem cells to re-create a type of cell in the retina that supports the photoreceptor cells needed for vision. These cells, called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), are often the first to die off in age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases, which in turn leads to loss of vision. Several years ago, Lanza’s team found that human embryonic stem cells could be a source of RPE cells, and subsequent studies found that these cells could restore vision in animal models of macular degeneration.[23]

In recent studies, the same team of researchers showed that their stem-cell therapy provides a long-term benefit in animal models of vision loss.[24] The retinal cells achieved near normal function in animals that otherwise would have gone blind.

In September 2011, Lanza’s company received approval from the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to begin the first human embryonic stem cell trial in Europe.[25][26] Surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London will inject healthy retinal cells into the eyes of patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy, hoping to slow, halt or even reverse the effects of the disease. The first person received the embryonic stem cell treatment earlier this year (2012). The patient reports improved vision in the eye treated with the cells, which The Guardian said “represents a huge scientific achievement.”[27]

First published reports of embryonic stem cells in humans[edit]

Lanza and his colleagues at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute published the first-ever report of the medical use of human embryonic stem cells transplanted into human patients.[28] The researchers initiated two prospective clinical studies to establish the safety and tolerability of subretinal transplantation of hESC-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in patients with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy and dry age-related macular degeneration.

After surgery, evidence confirmed cells had attached and continued to persist during the study. The researchers did not identify any signs of hyperproliferation, tumorigenicity, or ectopic tissue formation in either patient.

The patients who received the human embryonic stem cell transplants say their lives have been transformed by the experimental procedure.[29] During the 4-month observation period neither patient lost vision. Best corrected visual acuity improved from hand motions to 20/800 (and improved from 0 to 5 letters on the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study [ETDRS] visual acuity chart) in the study eye of the patient with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, and vision also seemed to improve in the patient with dry age-related macular degeneration.[28] One of the patients no longer needs a large magnifying glass to read and can reportedly thread a needle, and the other has begun to go shopping on her own.[30] The future therapeutic goal of these studies will be to treat patients earlier in the disease processes, potentially increasing the likelihood of visual rescue.[28]

In October 2014, Lanza and his colleagues published a follow-up paper in the journal The Lancet, providing the first evidence of the long-term safety and possible biologic activity of pluripotent stem cell progeny into humans with any disease.[31] "For a nice two decades scientists have dreamt about using human embryonic stem cells to treat diseases,” said Gautam Naik, Science Reporter at The Wall Street Journal “that day has finally come…scientists have used human embryonic stem cells to successfully treat patients suffering from severe vision loss." [32] RPE cells derived from embryonic stem cells were injected into the eyes of 18 patients with either Stargardt’s disease or dry-AMD. The patients were followed for more than three years, and half of them were able to read three more lines on the eye chart, which translated to critical improvements in their daily lives as well.[33]


In 2007, Lanza's article titled "A New Theory of the Universe" appeared in The American Scholar.[34] The essay addressed Lanza's idea of a biocentric universe, which places biology above the other sciences.[35][36][37] Lanza's book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the Universe followed in 2009, co-written with Bob Berman.[38] Reception for Lanza's hypothesis has been mixed.[39]

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",[40] the 2013 “Il Leone di San Marco Award in Medicine” (Italian Heritage and Culture Committee, along with Regis Philbin, who received the award in Entertainment),[41] a 2010 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Award for “Translating Basic Science Discoveries into New and Better Treatments”;[42] a 2010 “Movers and Shakers” Who Will Shape Biotech Over the Next 20 Years (BioWorld, along with Craig Venter and President Barack Obama);[43] a 2005 Wired magazine "Rave Award" for medicine “For eye-opening work on embryonic stem cells”,[44] and a 2006 Mass High Tech journal “All Star” award for biotechnology for “pushing stem cells’ future”.[45][46]


Lanza has authored and co-edited books on topics involving tissue engineering, cloning, stem cells, regenerative medicine, and world health.



  1. ^ "Ocata's chief scientific officer to join new parent after acquisition". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  2. ^ Fischer, Joannie (2001-11-25). "The First Clone". U.S. News & World Report: 1–9. Archived from the original on 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  3. ^ Cibelli, Jose B.; Lanza, Robert P.; West, Michael D.; Ezzell, Carol (2001-11-24). "The First Human Cloned Embryo". Scientific American: 1–4. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  4. ^ "Wired 12.01: Seven Days of Creation". 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  5. ^ Cell Stem Cell. "Access : Human somatic cell nuclear transfer using adult cells". Cell Press. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  6. ^ Naik, Gautam (2014-04-17). "Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  7. ^ Nature. "Access : Human embryonic stem cell lines derived from single blastomeres". Nature. 444: 481–485. doi:10.1038/nature05142. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  8. ^ "Cloning Noah's Ark: Scientific American". 2000-11-19. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  9. ^ "Wild Cows Cloned". NPR. 2003-04-08. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "Generation of histocompatible tissues using nuclear transplantation - Nature Biotechnology". Nature Biotechnology. 20: 689–696. doi:10.1038/nbt703. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  12. ^ "Blood - Biological properties and enucleation of red blood cells from human embryoni". doi:10.1182/blood-2008-05-157198. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  13. ^ [1] Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Vergano, Dan (2007-05-08). "Elusive 'ambulance' cells are created -". Usatoday.Com<!. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  15. ^ "Generation of functional hemangioblasts from human embryonic stem cells - Nature Methods". Nature Methods. 4: 501–509. doi:10.1038/nmeth1041. PMC 3766360Freely accessible. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  16. ^ "Cell Stem Cell - Generation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells by Direct Delivery of Reprogramming Proteins". Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  17. ^ Park, Alice (2009-05-28). "Researchers Hail Stem Cells Safe for Human Use". TIME. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  18. ^ ROCKOFF, JONATHAN (2012-12-13). "Stem-Cell Trial Without Embryo Destruction". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  19. ^ "Stem Cells May Open Some Eyes". 2004-09-24. Archived from the original on August 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  20. ^ "Microsoft Word - stem cell aid may soon treat some blindness.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  21. ^ "FDA Approves Second Trial of Stem-Cell Therapy". TIME. 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  22. ^ "Second human embryonic stem cell clinical trial to start". USA Today. 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  23. ^ "Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Cells Rescue Visual Function in Dystrophic RCS Rats – Cloning Stem Cells". 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  24. ^ Lu, B; Malcuit, C; Wang, S; Girman, S; Francis, P; Lemieux, L; Lanza, R; Lund, R (2009-07-01). "Long-term Safety and Function of RPE from Human Embryonic Stem Cells in Preclinical Models of Macular Degeneration". Stem Cells. 27: 2126–35. doi:10.1002/stem.149. PMID 19521979. 
  25. ^ Sample, Ian (2011-09-22). "First trial of embryonic stem cell treatment in Europe gets green light". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  26. ^ "First European Embryonic Stem Cell Trial Gets Green Light". TIME. 2011-09-22. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  27. ^ Boseley, Sarah (2012-06-04). "Stem cell scientists take hope from first human trials but see long road ahead". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  28. ^ a b c "Embryonic stem cell trials for macular degeneration: a preliminary report". The Lancet. 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  29. ^ "Early Success in a Human Embryonic Stem Cell Trial to Treat Blindness". 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  30. ^ Stein, Rob (2012-01-23). "Embryonic stem cells appear to restore some vision to legally blind patient". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  31. ^ Schwartz, SD; Regillo, CD; Lam, BL; Eliott, D; Rosenfeld, PJ; Gregori, NZ; Hubschman, JP; Davis, JL; Heilwell, G; Spirn, M; Maguire, J; Gay, R; Bateman, J; Ostrick, RM; Morris, D; Vincent, M; Anglade, E; Del Priore, LV; Lanza, R (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: 509–16. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61376-3. PMID 25458728. 
  32. ^ "Treating Eye Diseases With Stem Cells". 2014-10-14. Retrieved 2014-12-18. 
  33. ^ Park, Alice (2014-10-14). "Stem Cells Allow Nearly Blind Patients to See". Retrieved 2014-12-18. 
  34. ^ "A New Theory of the Universe:Biocentrism builds on quantum physics by putting life into the equation" (Spring). The American Scholar. 2007. 
  35. ^ Aaron Rowe (2009-01-04). "Will Biology Solve the Universe?". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  36. ^ "Theory of every-living-thing - Cosmic Log -". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  37. ^ "Robert Lanza - Tag Story Index -". 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  38. ^ 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. 
  39. ^ Log, Cosmic. "The universe in your head". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  40. ^ "TIME: The 100 Most Influential People - Robert Lanza". 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2015-03-17. 
  41. ^ "ACT's Dr. Robert Lanza to Receive the Il Leone di San Marco Award in Medicine". 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  42. ^ "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. 
  43. ^ "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. 
  44. ^ "Wired 13.03: The 2005 Wired Rave Awards". 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  45. ^ "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. 
  46. ^ 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 

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