Is a stem cell transplant in your future? Pellissippi State professor discusses sources, applications of stem cells

Susan McMahon, Pellissippi State biology professor, is pictured with an inverted light microscope. McMahon addresses “Stem Cells: The Hope of the Future” on the Pellissippi Campus Feb. 21 as part of the ongoing Faculty Lecture Series.

“In Australia, people with blinding corneal diseases are seeing once again with the help of stem cells derived from their own eyes,” said Susan McMahon. The Pellissippi State Community College biology professor discusses the science behind stem cells, along with their current and future applications, in a Feb. 21 lecture at the college.

“Stem Cells: The Hope of the Future” is the next presentation in the ongoing Pellissippi State Faculty Lecture Series. The free event is 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The community is invited to attend.

“Cures for breast cancer, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy—these and many other disorders may someday be treated, and even cured, with stem cells,” McMahon said.

“Striking results are being seen using stem cells,” she said. “For example, lab rats have been successfully treated with stem cells to regrow the pancreatic cells lacking in type 1 diabetes and to partially reverse spinal paralysis. Several people have recently received new tracheas grown from their own bone marrow and nasal stem cells.

“In fact, a Pellissippi State student will be traveling to Philadelphia this summer to receive an injection of her own stem cells with the hope of regenerating muscle tissue damaged by a degenerative neurological disorder.”

Trials using embryonic and adult stem cells are currently under way in many research facilities around the world.

“Stem cells have tremendous potential in regenerative medicine,” said McMahon. “But their use, particularly embryonic stem cells, raises ethical issues. We all need to understand this new field of science, so that we can make informed decisions regarding its applications,” said McMahon.

For more information about this event, contact Trent Eades at or Keith Norris at To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

The series lecture following McMahon’s is “Women in Film” by Katie Lovette, an instructor in Media Technologies. It takes place on March 21, 1-2 p.m., in the Goins Building Auditorium.