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Prometheus and I: building new body parts from stem cells

Ruth Howells21 November 2011

Stem cells and their use in transplant surgery is the focus of a great deal of hope, and a great deal of hype. Professor Martin Birchall (UCL Ear Institute) has been involved in some very high profile patient operations over the last few years, which have pushed the boundaries of stem cell medicine and modern surgical methods, attracting a huge amount of publicity in the process.


At a Lunch Hour Lecture on 15 November, a large audience came to hear Martin talk about the work he has been involved in, the advances that have been made in regenerative medicine and the current challenges.

At the heart of Martin’s lecture is the Greek myth of Prometheus and man’s age-old desire to emulate the gods and create man. He shows illustrations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and an alchemist creating a homunculus (a little human – something he likens himself to).

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