The Tribune: SLO High Grad is Now a Groundbreaking Scientist
Reporter Nick Wilson from The Tribune in San Luis Obispo, California, recently interviewed Cedars-Sinai postdoctoral fellow Samuel Sances, PhD, about the dramatic diving accident that inspired Sances to enter medical research. In a front-page story, Sances, a graduate of San Luis Obispo High School, discussed the accident and his pioneering stem-cell research and images, which are featured in the January 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine.
Sances related how, as a self-professed "adrenaline junkie" at age 16, he decided to jump from a high cliff into the Santa Ynez River, hitting into the water so hard that he broke a vertebra in his back. Temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, he said he overhead a doctor say he would never walk again.
Sances credited the conservative approach of local physicians, who eschewed immediate surgery, for his full recovery, which found him tearing down the slopes on a snowboard a few months later. "Their philosophy was to let the body heal itself. That experience gave me an exposure to know that there’s a lot to be learned from health care," Sances told The Tribune.
The article describes how Sances, now 31, is dedicating his career to helping those who are disabled and diseased — having received a sense of what it would have been like to be immobilized.
His research at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute involves engineering adult skin or blood cells into cells that can make cells of any organ, including the spinal cord and brain. These organ cells are then placed in small tissue-chip devices that mimic the body’s functions. Using these chips, scientists can study diseases and, potentially, test drug treatments for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease and other disorders.
"I feel like the next discovery is right around the corner," Sances said. "My dream is for this technology to touch many lives."
Click here to read the complete article in The Tribune.