Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita [DVD] [English] [2007]

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Special Features

  • Where are they now? slideshow
  • Additional scenes


Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita
Dr. Jack Kessler's life took a most unexpected twist in January 2001, when a tragic accident befell his family. At around the same time that Dr. Kessler received an appointment to chair Northwestern University's Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurological Sciences in Evanston, Illinois, Kessler's daughter Allison - then 15 years old - embarked on a ski trip, suffered a debilitating fall from a ski jump, and emerged paralyzed from the waist down. On an ironic note, just when the horizon appeared darkest for the family, Allison's paralysis inspired Kessler to shift the focus of his job research from the use of embryonic stem cells to cure diabetes, to the use of embryonic stem cells to cure spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, this occurred at almost exactly the same time that President George W. Bush vetoed a bill enabling special funding for stem cell research. As helmed by Maria Finitzo of Kartemquin Films (the company that produced the 1994 Hoop Dreams), the documentary Terra Incognita explores the complex ethos and heated debate surrounding stem cell research - issues that render it one of the most sensitive hot-button political issues of the early 21st century - by filtering the subject through the specific case of Allison Kessler, and thus examining the subject on an intensely personal, deeply human level. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

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