Shinya Yamanaka was just awarded a Nobel Prize (shared with John Gurdon) for his work creating "induced pluripotent stem cells" from adult cells without killing embryos. This piece by William Saletan highlights Yamanaka's moral victory which was as important as his scientific accomplishment.

In the introduction to their Cell paper, Yamanaka and his colleagues outlined their reasons for seeking an alternative to conventional embryonic stem-cell research. "Ethical controversies" came first in their analysis. Technical reasons--the difficulty of making patient-specific embryonic stem cells--came second. After the paper's publication, Yamanaka told a personal story, related by the New York Times:
Inspiration can appear in unexpected places. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka found it while looking through a microscope at a friend's fertility clinic. ... [H]e looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic. The glimpse changed his scientific career. "When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters," said Dr. Yamanaka ... "I thought, we can't keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way."

Sacrificing the lives of unborn children to treat adults is evil, and thanks to Shinya Yamanaka we don't need to debate the matter any more.

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