Discovering Stem Cells

Professor Ronald McKay discusses how he identified stem cells, and how they can explain the fundamental molecular processes of the nervous system.

So, when we were working on this fundamental problem of how the nervous system was created, is the nervous system created from many different biologically distinct neuron types, the answer became very clear, yes indeed. So, then the problem was how are we ever going to understand this very complicated chemistry that gives rise to these neurons and controls the basic organization of the brain? Stem cells had already been suggested to exist by powerful experiments that had been done in other groups. And so I became very interested in the idea that we could identify these stem cells, and then if we could identify them, and then understand how they generate in the brain, then the stem cells would explain the fundamental processes, the molecular processes that control the organization and function of the nervous system. While that is a very ambitious kind of statement, it turns out basically to be true. Our work in the nervous system has been influential for people working in many other tissues and now this idea that stem cells are present in many tissues and that you can use them to understand the way tissues function is an idea that is very, very widely pursued.

neurons, neuron, brain, neuronal types, nervous, system

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