By Don C. Reed

“I’m so excited!”—words of an old song keep running through my mind, this morning, 3:15 AM, Michigan time.

This is the center of the Universe. Detroit, Michigan, USA, and the World Stem Cell Summit. (Don’t forget Wednesday is  Stem Cell Awareness Day,  go to to find out how California is celebrating.)

Had a wonderful talk with the taxi driver, (everybody knows about the World Stem Cell Summit) on the way from the airport, and arrived at the Detroit Marriot Renaissance Hotel.

I got in too late for the tour of the Detroit Science Center, where Bernie Siegel had arranged a free all-day Public Education Day for everyone—raising awareness of Detroit’s involvement in the Biomedical revolution—but just walking to the room I met three stem cell celebrities. They were:

1. Stephen Davies of the University of Colorado was buzzing about—astrocytes! Astrocytes? “One astrocyte triggers a million synapses”, said Dr. Davies—and that matters for people (like my son Roman Reed) who are paralyzed. I had never really thought about this particular whatchamacallit before, but I will now!

2. Tom Okarma, the lion of stem cell research, whose company (Geron) is taking embryonic stem cells to the world’s first human trials. Okarma is muscular, active, and utterly determined—he had to be, to fight nine years to bring an idea from the laboratory to the bedside of paralyzed people—he and Hans Keirstead compiled 22,000 pages of correspondence with the FDA on their way to the trials just begun.

3. Somebody you don’t know yet, but you will—Keith Gurgui of New York. Keith is paralyzed, c4 quadriplegic, (which means paralyzed in both arms and legs) and it has only been 14 months since his accident.  But he is already involved in the fight for cure. He has business cards printed up, at the bottom it says, “attendee, World Stem Cell Summit, 2010”. He is intelligent, articulate, and I predict he will make a difference in our effort. Keith Gurgui (Gurg-way)—remember that name. If you want to get in touch with him, drop me a line.

In a couple hours, when the day officially begins, we’re going to be spending time with U.S. Senator Carl Levin, and Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan.

And then—three days of adventure in the mind and for the body—as top people from around the world share thoughts about what we must do to protect and advance the research for cure…

I will be blogging throughout the event, so check back here,

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