Jan. 24, 2011
This past week, Canadian scientist Dr. Ernest McCulloch passed away. The late Dr. McCulloch and his colleague Dr. James Till were pioneers in bone marrow transplant and bone marrow adult stem cells. Their early work with mice in the 1960's provided the first evidence for the existence of bone marrow adult stem cells and laid the theoretical groundwork for later applications of bone marrow and adult stem cell transplantation. Still, it was not until 1988 that the mouse bone marrow stem cells was isolated, and 1992 for the isolation of the human bone marrow adult stem cell. McCulloch & Till went on to win the 2005 Lasker Award.
Largely unnoticed at the time, another bone marrow transplant pioneer died in October 2010. French scientist Dr. Georges Mathe was an early pioneer and leader in the field of bone marrow transplantation. In 1958, he used donor bone marrow transplants to save several physicists accidentally exposed to high doses of radiation. He published one of the first successful donor bone marrow transplants for a patient with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, in 1963. Some felt that Mathe should have shared in the 1990 Nobel Prize for bone marrow transplantation.