On November 8, the Embassy of the Czech Republic closed the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2017-Gregor Mendel with the lecture Stem Cells at the Dawn of New Medicine: From Peas to Petri Dishes, by Hynek Wichterle of Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Wichterle talked about his groundbreaking methods for producing spinal cord neurons from pluripotent embryonic stem cells in a culture dish. The process faithfully recapitulates normal embryonic development, providing a unique opportunity to study and experimentally probe nerve cells in a controlled environment outside an embryo. His lab also capitalizes on the unlimited source of spinal neurons to study motor neuron degenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), with the goal of discovering new drugs for these currently untreatable and devastating conditions. Hynek Wichterle is the grandson of the famous chemist Otto Wichterle who is credited with the invention of contact lenses. The Embassy also has the exhibition, Czech Scientists and Their Inventions, on view in the main hall until the end of November. It was an inspiring night of science at the Czech Embassy.