Science & Technology

UGA brings stem cell pioneer to campus for Ritter Lecture

UGA brings stem cell pioneer to campus for Ritter Lecture

Athens, Ga. – The first man to create insulin-producing cells in the lab —a potential breakthrough for treating diabetes—will speak March 23 at the University of Georgia.

Douglas Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute at Harvard University, will deliver the 11th annual Hope Ritter Lecture, titled “Stem Cells to Create a Pancreas and Recreate Human Diabetes,” at 4 p.m. in Room 404E of the biological sciences building.

Melton’s research interest in diabetic treatment began shortly after his son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

Recently, his work has moved past embryonic and adult stem cells. Instead, he’s found a way to transform adult skin cells into new cells that may be able to replace others that no longer function.

The work could lead to breakthroughs beyond treating diabetes. By creating dopamine-producing cells, some researchers hope to provide a more effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Melton earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois and a B.A. in history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University in England. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Trinity College.

Each year, the Ritter Lecture Series brings a distinguished lecturer to campus. It was established in 1999 to honor Hope T.M. Ritter Jr., professor emeritus of cellular biology. The series is supported by the Ritter Lecture Series Fund, created with contributions from family and friends of Ritter on the occasion of his 80th birthday.