In 50 years' time, Doug Melton's inclusion on this list will probably seem prescient. By then, wherever the field of stem-cell research may stand, we will surely have gained the clarity required to look back and recognize the scientific heroes who believed in its transformative potentialand refused to let its promise go unfulfilled.
To anyone touched by illness or injury, a scientist who goes out in search of a cure always looks heroic, as Doug surely does. But his journey is personal as well as professional. As co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, he is motivated to fulfill the promise of embryonic stem cells by his son, who suffers from diabetes. Every day, Doug is on the front lines of the war not only against disease but also against the obstacles placed in the path of the science. And he has demonstrated that he has what it takes to advance this campaign. When President Bush cut federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research in 2001, Doug used private donations to create more than 100 stem-cell lines and distributed them without charge to researchers across the country. He has the skill and creativity to carry out the experiments that need to be done, and the vision and compassion to know that true humanity lies in relieving human suffering, not in acquiescing to politics or ideology.
Doug, 53, would be the first to agree that breakthroughs are never the responsibility of one person alone. Christopher Reeve once remarked, "When President Kennedy said we would go to the moon, we had the vision but not the technology. Today we have the technology and not the vision." Doug Melton has dedicated his life to the realization of both. I proudly join with millions of others in saying thank you.
Actor Fox is a campaigner for aggressive stem-cell research
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