The Foundation was formed in 1996 by Ann A. Kiessling, PhD, in response to a controversial clinical research need that was best undertaken by an independent public charity.

About the Director

Dr. Kiessling Director of the Bedford Research Foundation and retired as Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Nursing and Chemistry, a master’s degree in Organic Chemistry and a doctorate in Biochemistry/Biophysics from Oregon State University. (download CV (pdf))

Her postdoctoral research explored relationships between viruses and cancer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and University of California, San Diego. The work in San Diego led to the controversial discovery of Reverse Transcriptase in normal human cells in 1979 (Kiessling & Goulian (pdf)). Prior to this discovery, it had been assumed that reverse transcriptase was an enzyme found only in retroviruses. To understand the normal biologic role of reverse transcriptase, Dr. Kiessling began to study eggs and early cleaving embryos. Harvard Medical School recruited Dr. Kiessling in 1985, where she continues her research today.

Dr. Kiessling’s interest shifted toward stem cell research in 2000, when her expertise in human egg biology led her to develop the country’s first human egg donor program for stem cell research. Dr. Kiessling’s research at the Foundation is now focused on the development of Parthenote Stem Cells (stem cells derived from unfertilized human eggs), and Nuerospheres (an early stage of development of neurons).

Dr. Kiessling has published more than 100 scientific papers and given more than 60 lectures to audiences around the world. Her writings can be found in publications such as Nature, Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and Connecticut Law Review, and she has been the focus of articles in The Boston Globe and Newsweek. In 2003 (second edition released in 2006), Dr. Kiessling wrote Human Embryonic Stem Cells: An Introduction to the Science and Therapeutic Potential, the first textbook on the controversial topic.

Dr. Kiessling is a current member of the California (California Constitution Article XXXV) and Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Boards, and a member of the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committees (ESCROS) for Harvard University, Joslin Diabetes Center and Children’s Hospital.

The Special Program of Assisted Reproduction: The Foundation’s First Success

Dual interests in Virology and Reproductive Biology led Dr. Kiessling to research in semen transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and the creation of the first laboratory for Human In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in Oregon in the early 1980’s. Harvard Medical School recruited Dr. Kiessling in 1985, where she continues her research today.

In 1996, the need to conduct biomedical research in areas not funded by the federal government led to the incorporation of the Bedford Research Foundation (then, The Assisted Reproduction Foundation). Since then, the Foundation’s Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) has helped more than 80 couples affected by HIV disease have safe, healthy babies. Because of this success, more than two-dozen fertility centers throughout the country have implemented the SPAR program, allowing couples to seek care closer to home.

The techniques developed for SPAR have now been extended to other diseases of the male genitourinary tract, such as prostatitis and bladder infections.

Dr. Kiessling is the proud mother of three daughters and a son.

BS University of Virginia (Nursing)
BS Central Washington University (Chemistry)
MS Central Washington University (Organic Chemistry)
PhD Oregon State University (Biochemistry/Biophysics)

Faculty Appointments:
1977-1981 Assistant Professor of Anatomy Oregon Health Sciences University
1981-1985 Associate Professor of Anatomy Oregon Health Sciences University
1983-1985 Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Oregon Health Sciences University
1985-1990 Associate Professor of Obstetrics,Gynecology and Reproductive Biology Harvard Medical School
1990- Associate Professor of Surgery Harvard Medical School

See the complete bibliography