HANS KEIRSTEAD: Mr. Science Goes to Washington?

By Don C. Reed

On June 15th, Hans Keirstead, Ph.D., announced his candidacy for Congress, District 48, Costa Mesa, California.

Should we send a scientist to Washington?


We hear so much about science non-believers in the Republican party, and how this affects their votes on climate change. Some would apparently not recognize global warming if an iceberg slammed into their beach house.

Keirstead is not only a world-class scientist, but a man firmly rooted in the day-to-day problems of real people. For years, he and his father have been quietly arranging for literally tons of vitamins and medicines, and thousands of wheelchairs to be donated to some of the poorest people in Africa.

No ordinary individual, Hans has a third-degree blackbelt in Tae Quan Do, owns and flies his own helicopter,  and has brought the world closer to cures of chronic disease.

I have known him personally for nearly two decades.

When my son Roman Reed was paralyzed in a college football accident,  we passed a medical research law in California, the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999.

One of the first scientists California funded through “Roman’s Law” was Keirstead, who used embryonic stem cells to “re-insulate” the damaged nerves in a paralyzed rat. Her name was Fighter, and at first it made you cringe to see the white rodent trying to walk, dragging her useless hind-limbs behind her.  But after she got the embryonic stem cells (they were first  turned into the needed oligodendrocyte cells) she scampered across the purple plastic swimming pool (her play area) with her tail held high. Motion had been returned to her.

Today, in FDA-approved clinical trials run by Asterias Biotherapeutics,  that same research is being given to human beings, and it is working. In the last cohort of six paralyzed people to receive the experimental stem cells, all recovered hand control. For a paralyzed person, regaining the use of the hands is a dream come true, and it would not have happened without Hans Keirstead.

Paralysis is not the only “incurable” condition Hans is taking on. The “internationally known stem cell expert…has led therapy development for late stage cancers, immune disorders, motor neuron diseases, (and) retinal diseases.”

Look up his story. Everywhere he works, accomplishments follow.

Example:  “Dr. Keirstead received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia, Canada, for which he received the Cameron Award for the outstanding Ph.D. thesis in the country.”

Example:  “…at the University of Cambridge…he received the distinct honor of election as Senate Member of the University of Cambridge and Fellow of the Governing Body of Downing College and was the youngest member to have been elected to those positions.”

Right now, as CEO of Aivita Biomedicine ,Hans is trying to raise money to fight against a particularly deadly strain of cancer.  So, Hans being Hans, he came up with a new way to fund science: inventing a face cream which appears to  reduce wrinkles.  He has pledged that every dollar of profit from the wrinkle cream will go to the fight against ovarian cancer.

Example: when California was trying to decide whether or not to support stem cell research, Hans was on 60 Minutes TV show, showing how paralyzed rats could walk again. He served on the Science Advisory Board for Proposition 71, Bob Klein’s citizens initiative, which led to the California stem cell program. And when Nancy Reagan wanted to know about stem cell research, she reached out to Hans.

It is almost impossible not to like Hans Keirstead.  Someone who genuinely enjoys and respects the accomplishments of others, Keirstead inspires friendships that last. The people working with him now? Often  the ones he began with. Talk to Gabriel Nistor, who has been with Hans 17 years.

For instance, I am one of the behind-the-scenes patient advocates who works to raise funds for scientists and protect their freedom to research. I have been at it for twenty-three  years now. You may have read some of my stuff, a couple hundred articles for Huffington Post, some books, including one on the California stem cell program (and a second one on the way)—but I am a backup man, not someone you are likely to remember.  My son? That’s different. When Roman is “on”, he practically sheds energy—him you can never forget!


So the other day at a stem cell conference put on by Roman, I was reading a book to my grand-daughter Katherine. She is eight, and was being extraordinarily patient with all the science talk going on.
And Hans approached and smiled at her and said:
“Did you know your Grampa changed the world?”
Just a small act of kindness: but like a fingerprint, it may reveal the man.
Hans Keirstead is a positive force. He appreciates and brings out the best in people. When he challenged paralysis, it was a condition incurable since the dawn of time. Now we have people closing their hands and using their arms; with Keirstead, the most difficult challenges seem like adventures, waiting for us to take on together. And when he wins, we win; the world gets better.
Is that not the kind of person we want in our nation’s capitol?
For more information, visit: WWW.HANSFORCA.COM

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