What is a stem cell? We have a basic working definition, but the way we observe a stem cell function in a dish may not represent how it functions in a living organism. Only this is clear: Stem cells are the engine room of multicelluar organisms, both plants and animals. However, controversies, breakthroughs, and frustration continue to swirl in eternal storms through this rapidly moving area of research. But what does the average person make of all this, and how can an interested scholar probe this vast sea of information? The Encyclopedia of Stem Cell Research provides a clear understanding of the basic concepts in stem cell biology and addresses the politics, ethics, and challenges currently facing the field. While stem cells are exciting alone, they are also clearly fueling the traditional areas of developmental biology and the field of regenerative medicine. These two volumes present more than 320 articles that explore major topics related to the emerging science of stem cell research and therapy.
"The bulk of the 319 entries describe the work of individual scientists, universities and other research institutions to understand stem cells and their potential for medicine. Also noted is the work of advocacy groups and international organizations. The status of stem cell research in each state and 21 other countries is reviewed. The political and ethical debate is addressed in articles on Congressional and executive actions, religious attitudes and legal issues. However, the political confusion on the issue is best presented in appendices documenting federal funding, Congressional hearings on the subject and reports to the President?s Council on Bioethics. In terms of answering the basic questions about stem cells, this set does best in presenting their potential uses and the nature of current research on the subject. Considering the rapid pace of discovery in this developing field, the editors fully understand that their guide will not be the last word on the subject. Nonetheless, they provide an excellent starting point for understanding a truly exciting area of scientific research."
--Lawrence Looks at Books, September 2008
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