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Last Updated: Monday, 30 May, 2005, 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK
Experts examined - Dr Yury Verlinsky
Image of Yury Verlinsky
"I love my work. It's my profession, my hobby and my destiny."
In a series where we talk to leading health experts, the BBC News website meets the man who has helped families to have genetically-matched babies to treat sick siblings.

Dr Yury Verlinsky was amongst the first in the world, and the first in the US, to introduce chorionic villus sampling (CVS) - a way to diagnose conditions while babies are still in the womb.

He then helped devise a way to diagnose conditions in test-tube babies before they are transferred into the womb.

This shot him to fame when a family used the technique, called PGD, to have a baby whose cord blood could save the life of their other child who was sick with Fanconi anaemia.

At school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

In Russia, at school, I wanted to be a zoologist.

Robert Edwards, colleague and IVF pioneer

I was a volunteer in the zoo feeding the lion pups and wolf pups.

I was intrigued by the diversity of the animal kingdom.

What first got you interested in what you do now?

After University, I worked full time in the zoology department at Kharkov University. Then the genetic era began.

I got into cytogenetics - looking inside of the genetics of life diversity - and then into endocrinology and looking at prenatal diagnosis and the function of chromosomes.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
It made me think about things that I had not considered before

Then, in the early 80s, I met Bob Edwards and, together, we moved into preimplantation diagnosis [checking embryos for diseases before transferring them into a woman's womb as with conventional IVF treatment].

It's the most fascinating discipline in biology that has ever existed because you get to see how simple cells that everybody has become what we are as individuals.

I became more and more interested the more I found out about molecular biology and genetics.

What are the major issues or challenges in your field of interest at the moment?

I would say the change to look at stem cells as a cure for diseases.

Family and work

Eventually, stem cells could replace all pharmaceuticals.

The difficulty is that there is a lot that still has to be done. We are not there yet.

And we face criticism [from opponents] all the time.

But we must continue this important research. If we stop what we are doing we may as well stop treating people. It will amount to the same.

We do not create cloned humans. We are just using what exists.

What worries keep you awake at night?

I guess the same things as everyone else.

It leaves a very bad taste in my mouth

Humans are animals and we have to live with each other. We can't live in isolation.

So we have to learn to live together without destroying each other.

That is very difficult to do.

What do you regret?

I'm a very positive person. I never regret what I have done because there is no point if you can't change it.

Not doing enough exercise

You just have to make sure that you learn from your mistakes.

What would you have done if you hadn't gone in to this?

I can't imagine doing anything else.

I love my work. It's my profession, my hobby and my destiny.

Born 1943 in Siberia
1965: BS from Kharkov University, USSR
1968: Earned an MS from the Institute of Endocrinology at Kharkov University, USSR
1973: PhD Kharkov University, USSR
1979: Director Cytogenetics Section at the Division of Medical Genetics, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, US
1988: Director Reproductive Genetics Institute Chicago, US
Current: President of the Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis International Society

Q&A: Helping a sick sibling
21 Jul 04 |  Health

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