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Celebrating Ann Kiessling: The life and legacy of a pioneer scientist

Author: Maia Zaman Arpita

Challenging assumptions and paving innovative routes, Ann Kiessling's courageous quest for knowledge has revolutionised our comprehension of reproductive biology and stem cell research. Ann Drue Anderson, who later became Ann Kiessling, was born in 1942 and raised in Oregon. She grew up as a science enthusiast; she pursued a nursing degree from Georgetown University and the University of Virginia. Further intensifying her journey towards her aim, she earned degrees in chemistry and organic chemistry from Central Washington University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Oregon State University.

She showcases her immense interest in research to award the world with both groundbreaking and controversial research. One of her first and notable achievements includes the discovery of reverse transcriptase in normal human cells (1979) as a part of her post-doctoral degree. Her discoveries illuminated the link between viruses and cancer, challenging traditional beliefs and opening the door for more investigation into the influence of retrovirus sequences in human genes and their effects on human development and physiology. Currently, Kiessling is acknowledged as a trailblazer in both reproductive biology and stem cell research. Her researches have awarded us with valuable insights into the key areas within the discipline.

Motivated by a desire to pursue research; that is overlooked by larger organisations due to political considerations, she established the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation in 1996. The main objective of this independent, non-profit institute was the application of stem cells to cure incurable diseases like HIV and spinal cord injuries.

Throughout Kiessling’s career, she has occupied roles in various esteemed establishments, such as Oregon Health Sciences University and Harvard Medical School.Her immaculate research and innovative approaches has earned her numerous honours and awards for her pioneering research and creative approach to science, including the Alumni Achievement Award from the University Of Virginia School Of Nursing.

The influence of her work persists, inspiring and educating scientists and researchers globally. Her impact on virology, reproductive biology, and stem cell research will endure, shaping our comprehension of human health and disease for years to come.


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