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An ode (or two) to stem cells

July 15, 2010|By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

In addition to doling out roughly $3 billion in stem cell research money, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine also holds a poetry contest.

The contest was initiated last year to celebrate Stem Cell Awareness Day (also known as Sept. 23). The theme, "What stem cell research means to me," was broad enough to include entries from scientists, patients who could potentially be treated with stem cells, or anyone else who supports the research. There were enough entries to warrant two first-place awards.

Somehow, announcement of the winners escaped our attention until now. But since poetry is eternal — and many stem cells are immortal — we figured it wasn't too late to share the winning entries.

Jonathan Lee of the Drew School penned the blue-ribbon winner for short form poetry (a slight variation on a haiku):

Tis' the day to praise

The base of life unhazed,

The world in one cell.

First prize for long form poetry went to "The Non-Terminator" by Jessica Grubaugh of Purdue University:

Stem Cells, Oh Stem Cells,

Endless potentials have you.

The ability to grow and divide,

Self-replicate, reproduce and renew.

Your diversity allows

For any kind of tissue.

To exist and propagate

Without many an issue.

Your Powers of healing,

And of critical repair

Enable our lovers

To never despair.

Then why is it, Oh Stem Cell

That many assume

You've spawned from a corpse

Of an 'evil' one's womb?

Where is the common notion

That the public should possess

That you've likely come from

A clinic, a cord or another address?

Prejudged and discriminated,

You are misunderstood.

But you dominate survival.

In ways others never could.

You've shown the whole world

With genetic programming tech

That differentiation without limit

Should inspire Obama's next check.

Your struggle, strong Stem Cell

Has influenced me

To live my whole life

With constant potency!

No word yet on CIRM's website about whether the contest will be repeated for this year's Stem Cell Awareness Day.

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