Video: Dr. Ann A. Kiessling receives first Alumni Achievement Award

From the University of Virginia:

The Alumni Achievement Award is a new award established in 2010.  It honors an alumna or alumnus who has shown superior achievement in a field other than nursing since graduating from the University of Virginia School of Nursing.  It recognizes distinction in one’s field and/or contributions to another profession, business or industry, government or public service, education, science or technology, or service to humanity.

2010 ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:  Ann Anderson Kiessling (BSN ’64)

Ann Anderson Kiessling received her BSN from U.Va. in 1964, BS in Chemistry and MS in Organic Chemistry from Central Washington University, and her PhD in Biochemistry from Oregon State University.  During the 1970s, her postdoctoral research explored relationships between viruses and cancer and led to the controversial discovery of Reverse Transcriptase in normal human cells. Believing that reverse transcription may play a role in early embryo development, she began to study eggs, sperm and early cleaving embryos.  Her expertise in reverse transcriptase and the reproductive tract led to the first studies of semen transmission of the AIDS virus in 1983, and in 1985 Harvard Medical School recruited her as Associate Professor in Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Biology.  She is currently Associate Professor of Surgery.

In the 1990s, Ann combined her background in human egg biology and AIDS with her interest in stem cell research and founded the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation, in response to a controversial clinical research need that was best undertaken by an independent public charity.  The Foundation still receives no federal funding. There Ann developed the first program of assisted reproduction for couples living with HIV disease, and the first human egg donor program for stem cell research, a program that has become a model worldwide.  In 2003, she published Human Embryonic Stem Cells: An Introduction to the Science and Therapeutic Potential, the first textbook on the controversial topic. She has also 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, Newsweek, and The Wall Street Journal.

Under Ann’s leadership, the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation has developed promising advances in deriving patient-specific stem cells while also tackling the moral and ethical issues in stem cell use.  Its programs have helped more than 120 couples affected by HIV disease have safe, healthy babies – and one day may lead to cures for spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s, and HIV disease.

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