Author: Stephen Coldwell

Len Zon: Cancer researcher, shofar player and Star Trek enthusiast

Len Zon, MD, is known world-wide as the director of the Stem Cell Research Program at Children’s Hospital Boston. His use of zebrafish models for research into hematopoiesis and as screens for oncogenic genes and proteins has been featured in forums ranging from The Scientist to Jay Leno’s Tonight Show monologue. But what’s Zon’s life like outside of the zebrafish lab? Find out on “The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers”—the Emmy-nominated web video series from the makers of one of the most acclaimed television science series ever, PBS’s NOVA. See another side of Zon, as he talks about his skills on the shofar—a musical instrument carved from a ram’s horn, growing up as a budding biologist with a rocket scientist father, and his affection for Star Trek’s ‘Bones’ McCoy.

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Kids with cerebral palsy test the latest touchscreen technology

Last month, pediatric specialists from across town visited Children’s Hospital Boston for demos of a technology designed to motivate children with cerebral palsy (CP) to do their occupational therapy. Created by a multidisciplinary team from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (SRH) and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the system uses a three-foot wide tabletop touchscreen donated by Microsoft Surface–imagine a giant iPad.

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The Gene Partnership: Hitting the road

The Gene Partnership (TGP) at Children’s Hospital Boston is now fully open for business, just in time for TGP Executive Director Dietrich Stephan, PhD, to hit the road to TEDMED, where he’ll be promoting TGP’s mission of “genetics for everyone.”

TGP was launched to harvest the fruits of the Human Genome Project–coupled with information technology, clinical data and other contextual information–to power the next wave of medicine. It approaches this goal differently than most personal genomics ventures, treating participants not as subjects but as partners. Patients can control what information they wish to share with a research project, and what information they receive back — benefiting from research findings directly and confidentially, free of charge.

Every child and family that visits Children’s can enroll, allowing researchers access to a rich, unparalleled repository of genetic information. Combined with faster gene-sequencing, mapping and data-crunching tools, the goal is for patients’ diseases to be diagnosed earlier and for new treatments — perhaps customized to the patient’s genome — to be moved to the market sooner.

Who would you rather give your DNA to?

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Delays of any length are damaging to stem cell research

Last week, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction placed on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research – but for how long? While Federal funding of research can continue while the case is fully processed, the fight isn’t over and any further delays could prove catastrophic for researchers. Leonard Zon, MD, director of the Stem Cell Program at Children’s Hospital Boston spoke to CNN about the irrevocable damage that even temporary delays can cause to stem cell research.

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