Skip to main content

Thomson receives Golden Plate award

January 15, 1999 By Terry Devitt

Scientist James Thomson has earned an American Academy of Achievement 1999 Golden Plate Award for his pioneering work in embryonic stem cell derivation and culture.

Thomson will join 25 new award recipients selected from diverse fields including leaders in business, politics, sports, arts, and science who have earned this prestigious achievement award since 1961. Past recipients include Neil Armstrong, Bob Hope, Helen Keller, Mickey Mantle, Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and Michael Jordan.

Numerous Nobel Laureates, including Linus Pauling, have also garnered the Golden Plate award. Among last year’s recipients were Nobel Prize-winning chemist and UW–Madison graduate Paul D. Boyer.

Thomson’s recent breakthrough in culturing human embryonic stem (ES) cells outside the body brings researchers closer to the possibility of genetically engineering these early cells, capable of becoming any tissue in the body, for transplanting into diseased human tissues. Thomson’s work first made headlines in 1995, after he had successfully maintained rhesus monkey ES cells in culture at the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center.

The Academy is a Salute to Excellence program that annually brings together adult leaders from the great walks of life to share their wisdom and experience with 450 honor students from across the nation. The program culminates with the Banquet of the Golden Plate, where new inductees such as Thompson receive the Academy’s Golden Plate Award. This year’s banquet is scheduled for June 19 in Washington, D.C.