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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

In the Room, with Doris Taylor
Trent Gilliss, online editor

Unfortunately, one of Krista’s recent interviews wasn’t available for viewing by the time "Stem Cells, Untold Stories" was available for download and broadcast. I say unfortunate because it’s a rare opportunity when Krista is able to interview a guest in our home studios at Minnesota Public Radio — and we’re able to film it and then make it accessible.

After tweaking our encoding specification so that it would properly upload to our video vendor, it’s finally available and wanted to make you aware of it. For those of you who struggle with the limits and the priorities of stem cell research and its outcomes, I highly recommend watching Dr. Taylor talk about her own research and ethical understanding. If nothing else, you’re able to see the passion she conveys when she talks about human physiology and the body’s ability to regenerate and adapt.


Life in Doris Taylor’s Lab
Andy Dayton, associate web producer

After watching Krista’s interview with Doris Taylor, it was hard not to want to see her lab in person. Krista referenced Laurie Zoloth’s phrase “fiction science” during her conversation with Taylor and many of the the mental images that resulted — decellularized “ghost hearts,” cells beating in a dish, rows of pumping regenerated rat hearts — seemed to fit into that category.

So, I was excited to see how those images would hold up when we made a trip Taylor’s lab several months after the interview. While we didn’t didn’t see rows and rows of beating hearts, in the video above, we did see a singular regenerated rat heart beat in an apparatus Taylor called a bioreactor, and a moment later we also heard the story of the man with an incurable heart disease who told her that she was “building hope.”

And, in this video, we also saw the magnified image of beating heart cells as Taylor explained why “cells alone don’t make a heart” and Krista handling animal organs with their cells removed as she discussed the “surprising beauty” of the heart with Taylor (see video below).

And while the fiction science elements of her lab were fascinating, it was most engaging to see Taylor’s energy and passion come out while she was clearly in her element. Her perspective helped keep what might sound like a Mary Shelley-inspired experience focused on the aspect of her work she seems to be most interested in — life.


The Timeliness of Telomeres
Marc Sanchez, associate producer

The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded this week to Dr. Elizabeth A. Blackburn, Dr. Carol W. Greider, and Dr. Jack D. Szostak. Their work in the 1980’s brought to light the importance of telomeres. In the simplest terms, telomeres live at the ends of our chromosomes, and up until the time of this research, nobody really knew what they were for. Their work shows how telomeres protect our chromosomes, so that during cell division our DNA can be precisely copied from one cell to the next.

Our staff was introduced to telomeres a few weeks ago when Krista interviewed Dr. Doris Taylor. Taylor has gained notoriety recently for her work studying stem cells and "building" hearts. We’re hard at work getting the full interview ready to air in a couple weeks, but here’s an excerpt of that interview in which she talks about stress, stem cells, and telomeres.