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Alumnus's book provides a layperson's look at stem cell science

As a career-long faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Leo Furcht, M.D., has had a front-row seat for many breakthroughs in stem cell science over the last few decades.

A resident in the Class of 1975, Furcht has conducted his own research on cancer stem cells. He also is a past president of the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology, a national group of biomedical researchers that advocates for policies promoting research in this field.

While working with legislators in Washington to draft the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, he realized something: “There were lots of well-intentioned people who really didn’t know some of the important issues about embryonic and adult stem cells,” he says.

That realization inspired Furcht to write The Stem Cell Dilemma: Beacons of Hope or Harbingers of Doom? Released this year by Arcade Publishing, the book is meant to provide laypeople with an unbiased look at the pros and cons of stem cell research, says Furcht, who co-wrote the book with William Hoffman, a longtime University writer and editor.

Furcht, who is head of the Medical School’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, is pleased with the book’s early success.

“It’s been received quite well,” he says. “We’ve received a number of reviews.” One of those was by Kirkus Reviews, which called the book a “[t]imely, levelheaded investigation of stem-cell medicine.” Other reviews are available at stemcelldilemma.com.

Furcht and Hoffman also recorded a one-hour “Book TV” feature for C-SPAN2 in April at the University of Minnesota Bookstore, the first time the bookstore’s author events program has been recorded for “Book TV.” They’ve done a few local media interviews as well.

As for upcoming media events? “I’m holding out for [Comedy Central’s] ‘The Colbert Report,’” Furcht says wryly.

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