Austrian-born Konrad Hochedlinger can trace a direct line from the seminal cloning experiments of the ‘60s to his current position as associate professor at Harvard’s Stem Cell Institute, Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. Those early experiments, conducted by John Gurdon, led to his decision to attend the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, in Vienna, for graduate work. While there, he attended a lecture given by Rudolf Jaenisch, who proposed to use animal cloning. Fascinated by this concept, he applied, successfully, to join Jaenisch’s lab as a visiting graduate student at the Whitehead Institute/MIT. In his six years there, Hochedlinger says, he “learned how to think scientifically and ask fundamental questions in stem cell biology.” He also succeeded in generating cloned mice, from fully specialized immune cells.
At his independent lab today, Hochedlinger works to understand the “elusive mechanisms of cellular reprogramming.” His ultimate goal is to utilize this information for the generation of patient-specific stem cells in drug discovery efforts and for the treatment of degenerative diseases. In addition to his research activities, he enjoys teaching courses at both Harvard and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He does not shy away from addressing the often controversial scientific, ethical, and legal issues surrounding stem cell research, and welcomes the opportunity to speak with lay audiences on these topics. Hochedlinger earned his PhD in mammalian development from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology.