Friday Night Movie Review: Mapping Stem Cell Research – Terra Incognita

Terra Incognita is a fascinating documentary that can be found on Netflix and streamed to any computer or TV – and I’d highly recommend watching it for several reasons. First, it’s a captivating film about a neurology professor and researcher (Dr. Jack Kessler, at Northwestern University) who abandons his longtime academic career in an area of neurology to pursue a line of stem cell research when his daughter is paralyzed in an accident. It’s a compelling and riveting film – to watch a very driven and passionate man use his talents and intellect to pursue a cure for his daughter’s condition.

On another level, the film provides a very close look into the daily workings of a laboratory, and the responsibilities of the research staff and faculty who work with a principal investigator to pursue an hypothesis on a study. As research administrators, if you’ve ever wondered what impact your work is having on the lives of real people – this is the film to watch. You will see a principal investigator focused on the study and its goals – post docs, performing various tests (and dealing with challenges that come with the territory) and the patients who are living with spinal cord injury who visit the lab to interact with the research faculty. At the end, you will know why it is you do what you do – and why you need to do it so well.

It’s an exciting film to watch and it’s hard not to get drawn in, especially if you’re a science junkie, to see if Dr. Kessler’s hypothesis will work…and we find out some preliminary data before the film ends. I won’t ruin the ending. It’s a great film.

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