American Philosophical Society
Member History

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Resident (1)
2. Biological Sciences[X]
202. Cellular and Developmental Biology[X]
1Name:  Dr. Helen M. Blau
 Institution:  Stanford University
 Year Elected:  2018
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  202. Cellular and Developmental Biology
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1948
Helen Blau is world-renowned for her seminal discovery that the differentiated state is reversible rather than fixed and terminal. Her demonstration of cellular plasticity constituted a paradigm shift in our understanding of mammalian cell differentiation. Using muscle as a model, Blau’s work provided the first definitive evidence that diverse cell types could be reprogrammed using non-dividing cell fusions. Her studies demonstrated that cell differentiation requires continuous regulation and that a shift in the stoichiometry of trans-acting regulators induces nuclear reprogramming, providing the scientific underpinnings for the induction of pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Blau applied this discovery to stem cell biology. She led the field with novel approaches to treating muscle damaged due to disease, injury, or aging. She showed that biophysical and biochemical cues synergize to maintain the stem cell state in culture and rejuvenate the function of aged muscle stem cell populations, profoundly impacting the field of regenerative medicine. Among Helen Blau's many honors are the 1999 FASEB Excellence in Science Award and a Fulbright Senior Specialists award. She was President of the American Society for Developmental Biology 1994-95, on the National Advisory Council of the National Institute of Aging 1996-2000, President of the International Society of Differentiation 2004-05, and member of the Harvard Board of Overseers 2004-10. She was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2018.
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