When luminaries from the worlds of government, business, science, entertainment, and the arts gathered in New York City on the evening of May 8 to honor Time magazine’s 100, HSCI Scientific Co-Director Douglas A. Melton, PhD, was there — not as a guest, but as a member of the illustrious group of honorees. Melton, who is widely known and highly respected as a leader in his field, was cited by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in the past year.
In his essay in Time in support of Melton’s selection, Michael J. Fox — well-known actor, Parkinson’s disease patient, and passionate advocate of stem cell research — wrote, “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…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.” Melton is the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of themNatural Sciences at Harvard University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is also a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and is the author of more than 100 scientific papers.
In addition to his role as Scientific Co- Director of HSCI, Melton leads one of HSCI’s Diabetes Program’s main projects. His lab is focused primarily on finding ways to direct embryonic stem cells to become insulin producing pancreatic beta cells, and using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT, also known as therapeutic cloning) to produce diabetes-specific stem cells with which to better understand, and potentially find treatments for, this prevalent disease.