When Nathaniel Jeanson graduated from high school, he hadn't yet thought about becoming a doctor and researcher in one of the most cutting edge and controversial fields in medicine today: stem cells.
"I knew that I didn't like insects or blood, but I liked science," he said in a recent phone interview.
Jeanson attended the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and studied molecular biology, though he admitted that he didn't know exactly what it was when he started. But it involved chemistry and was related to disease research, both fields that interested him, and he graduated with his bachelor's degree in 2003.
He went straight to Harvard Medical School, which he said "sounded like it would be useful for credentials and evangelism." He developed an interest in cancer research while there and worked in the stem cell laboratory. "But strictly with adult stem cells," he emphasized. Under the supervision of a noted hematologist, Jeanson focused on stem cells derived from blood cells, which is ironic, he said, since he doesn't like blood. Jeanson received his Ph.D. earlier this year and continued his research at Harvard, specifically on the role of Vitamin D in regulating blood stem cells.
Stem cell research has been a hot button issue in medical science, politics, and the media. When the Massachusetts legislature tried to overturn laws regarding the ethical use of embryonic stem cells, Jeanson and some of his colleagues were invited to submit expert testimony. While many of his colleagues favored embryonic stem cell research, Jeanson testified for the "other side" due to his creationist views.
"I didn't appear in court, but I got to submit a written testimony," he said.
When asked how he became interested in creation science, Jeanson said he grew up in a Christian home and was homeschooled until he reached high school. Playing a big role in his science education were teaching materials from the Institute for Creation Research.
"I'm a second generation creationist, you might say," he said. He explained how he saw that "salvation was inherent in creation science" and that it could be used as a tool for evangelism, another passion of his.
With a promising and lucrative career in medical research open before him, Jeanson said he underwent a career shift at Harvard. "I asked myself, 'How can I use and abuse my training to influence eternity, rather than for temporary gain?'" He considered mission work or attending seminary. He decided, instead, to seek employment at ICR, rather than continuing his research in Boston.
Some may think the decision is career suicide, especially in light of secular science's growing intolerance to views outside of the evolution-only paradigm. But he asked, "What's more important? Money or eternal friends?"
When Jeanson traveled to ICR in Dallas for his interview, he met with ICR President Dr. John Morris, ICR National Representative Dr. Randy Guliuzza, and several others. "They asked me what I was interested in doing. Research? Speaking? Writing? And I said, 'Yeah,'" he laughed.
Dr. Jeanson officially joined ICR as a research associate in September. He hopes his training can contribute to and advance the mission of ICR, while encouraging fellow believers and gaining "eternal friends."
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Dao, C. 2009. New ICR Research Associate: Nathaniel T. Jeanson, Ph.D. Acts & Facts. 38 (9): 9.