Professor Lee Silver gets around. He’s discussed cloning with Charlie Rose, stem cells with Ted Koppel, and designer babies on the BBC. You can even watch him tangle with Stephen Colbert. A professor at Princeton in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Silver’s most recent book is Challenging Nature: The Clash of Biotechnology and Spirituality. According to one reviewer, he “gleefully eviscerates the motley preachers, pundits, philosophers, and politicians who, he argues, hinder science on the basis of a vague belief that biotechnology trespasses where mere mortals dare not go.”
Silver has long championed technology in his classes. He was among the first faculty at Princeton to create web pages for his courses. These days, in addition to pressing the envelope within Princeton’s course management system (Blackboard), he maintains a column within Scientific Blogging, a treat for those who enjoy science but who may find its realities a bit daunting.
Silver has a recent entry about why California thinks that you shouldn’t be able to look at your own DNA. He’s also looked at the Secret Life of Embryonic Stem Cells, “Abortion Art” at Yale, whether cloned meat will kill you, and even whether a man can get pregnant? The answer, of course, is yes, says Silver, “but it might kill him.”
Of special interest is Silver’s brave two-part effort to initiate a conversation with a creationist. After several go rounds, Silver finally acknowledged that the conventional assumption - that it’s possible to explain successfully the facts about the validity of a neo-Darwinian approach - is wrong. He concludes that not all people - not even intelligent ones - have minds that operate according to the same principles of rationality.
Silver received his PhD in biophysics from Harvard University. His previous book for a popular audience was Remaking Eden. He is also the author of Mouse Genetics (a textbook for professionals), coeditor of Teratocarcinoma Stem Cells, and coauthor of the undergraduate text Genetics: From Genes to Genomes. In addition to more than 180 scholarly articles, Silver is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the recipient of a National Institutes of Health MERIT award for outstanding research in genetics.
Posted by Lorene Lavora