A pioneering UW-Madison stem cell scientist has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In 1998, Dr. Jamie Thomson became the first scientist to isolate and culture human embryonic stem cells. Thomson now studies the basic biology underlying the ability of ES cells to become any cell type in the body, and how the cells choose to leave their blank-slate state and differentiate into specialized cell types. Last year, he and UW-Madison scientist Junying Yu reported another landmark discovery: the genetic reprogramming of human skin cells to create cells indistinguishable from ES cells.
Election to the National Academy of Sciences is considered one of the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed upon an American scientist. Thomson is one of 72 new fellows admitted to the 145-year old academy this year. Thomson joined UW-Madison in 1994 and was appointed director of regenerative biology at the UW-Madison-based Morgridge Institute for Research earlier this year.