Paradigm Shifter: An Interview with Robert Lanza

A cover story on Robert Lanza in U.S. News and World Report summarized his remarkable life with these words: “[He] is the living embodiment of the character played by Matt Damon in the movie ‘Good Will Hunting.’ Growing up underprivileged in Stoughton, Mass., south of Boston, the young preteen caught the attention of Harvard Medical School researchers when he showed up on the university steps having successfully altered the genetics of chickens in his basement. Over the next decade, he was ‘discovered’ and taken under the wing of scientific giants such as psychologist B.F. Skinner, immunologist Jonas Salk, and heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard. His mentors described him as a ‘genius,’ a ‘renegade thinker,’ even likening him to Einstein.”

The full potential of this renegade genius began to shine through his already formidable scientific achievements as a stem cell researcher with the publication of his article, “A New Theory of the Universe,” in 2007. In that trailblazing essay, Lanza outlined the principles that would anchor Biocentrism, a book that Nyogen Roshi describes as mirroring his experiences in the practice of zazen as closely as anything he has encountered in a modern writer.

Lanza is in the early stages of a project that aims to regenerate damaged optic nerves from specially designed lines of stem cells—a collaborative undertaking that introduced him to Hazy Moon sangha member Ralph Shikan Levinson, a professor of ophthalmology at UCLA. Through that association Lanza learned of his small but enthusiastic fan base at the Hazy Moon and graciously agreed to respond to some questions about his work.

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