Pioneer of Embryonic Stem Cell Passes Away


Published Date : Apr 03, 2015

Leroy Stevens who was former researcher at Jackson Laboratory died of congestive respiratory failure on March 28 at the age of 94. His work with the mouse tumors led to the embryonic stem cells (ESCs). 

Leroy Stevens who belonged to Kenmore, New York graduated from Cornell University and did his Phd in embryology from University of Rochester both located in New York. Leroy Stevens joined the Jackson Laboratory in Maine in 1953 where he worked on models of cancer on mouse. He was promoted as senior staff scientist in 1967.

While working on murine testicular tumor in 1958 he made an interesting finding. Stevens found out part of the tumor contains different types of tissues such as teeth and hair, which is a type of cancer known as teratoma. Stevens investigated further on teratoma to find out it had similarities with cells in the mouse embryo. 

Stevens later transplanted the embryonic cells in adult mice, some of which caused teratoma to grow in the mice. In the year 1970, Stevens and his team carried the experiment to find the first Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs). It is Stevens’ work and contribution to the biology of stem cell that built the road for our current knowledge for the potential and properties of the human stem cells. This was said by Gail Martin of the University of California on the 75th anniversary of the Jackson Laboratory.

Leroy Stevens had a long career at Jackson Laboratory to research on cancer using mouse models from where in retired in 1989.