2006.10.10: October 10, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Iran: University Administration: Science: Stem Cells: The Capital Times: Shalala rips stem cell obstacles

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Iran: Special Report: Iran RPCV, Cabinet Member, and University President Donna Shalala: February 9, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: RPCV Donna Shalala (Iran) : 2006.10.10: October 10, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Iran: University Administration: Science: Stem Cells: The Capital Times: Shalala rips stem cell obstacles

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Shalala rips stem cell obstacles

Shalala rips stem cell obstacles

"I always thought members of Congress should pass a scientific literacy test before they take office," said Donna Shalala, former UW-Madison chancellor and current president of the University of Miami at Florida. Shalala spoke at the Institute of Medicine Annual Meeting in Washington called to discuss the science and public policy of stem cells. The institute is part of the National Academy of Sciences, a congressionally chartered organization based in Washington that scientifically analyzes national health care policy. University of Miami President and former Clinton Cabinet member Donna Shalala served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran in the 1960's.

Shalala rips stem cell obstacles

Shalala, scientists rip stem cell obstacles

Frustrated with action by pols

By Matthew Blake
The Capital Times/Medill News Service

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of miles from the fierce gubernatorial debate over stem cells, leading scientists who work in public policy vented their frustration Monday with a federal government they believe fundamentally misunderstands the issue of embryonic stem cell research.

"I always thought members of Congress should pass a scientific literacy test before they take office," said Donna Shalala, former UW-Madison chancellor and current president of the University of Miami at Florida.

Shalala spoke at the Institute of Medicine Annual Meeting in Washington called to discuss the science and public policy of stem cells. The institute is part of the National Academy of Sciences, a congressionally chartered organization based in Washington that scientifically analyzes national health care policy.

Attendees expressed their disappointment in the failure of Congress to overcome a presidential veto this summer to fund embryonic stem cell research. President Bush used his veto power for the first time, saying that money used for the isolation of stem cells from human embryos crossed a moral boundary and amounted to a loss of human life.

Bush's lame-duck presidency and the possible takeover of Congress by Democrats, who tend to vote for embryonic stem cell research funding and could override future vetoes, has created a climate of uncertainty for many biomedical researchers.

"There is a chilling effect when you have fetters about what research might be permissible today and what is permissible tomorrow," said Allen Spiegel, a doctor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Shalala expressed hope that the political tide may turn thanks to the drive of leading research states such as Wisconsin and California.

But Wisconsin government funding for embryonic stem-cell research has also generated controversy. Gov. Jim Doyle is locked in a tight race with U.S. Rep. Mark Green for re-election and the issue of embryonic stem cell research has emerged as a core talking point for both two candidates.

Doyle has promised $750 million in public and private biotechnology and embryonic stem cell research over 10 years, including the funding for the Institutes of Discovery in Madison. He has accused Green of using political ideology to prevent scientific discoveries and economic development that can come from patents and scientific jobs in biomedical research.

Green joined Bush in opposing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Wisconsin Democrats like U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin have warned that Green's election as governor could be a "tragedy" for state biomedical research.

For his part, Green has proposed $25 million over four years for research that utilizes adult stem cells and explores whether stem cells can be harvested from embryos without destroying the embryo.

Institute of Medicine members characterized the ebb and flow of stem cell policy as harmful to sustained research and indicative of a lack of knowledge about the issue.

Susan Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, said elected leaders and the constituents they serve "maybe took biology in high school and probably do not remember it."

To illustrate public misconceptions about stem cells, George Daly, Harvard Medical School associate professor, displayed a National Enquirer article, "Liz Taylor: Stem Cell Shocker," which described embryonic stem cell lines being used to give Taylor a facelift.

But while it has become entrenched in state, national and even tabloid headlines, the use of stem cells from a human embryo is a recent development.

In 1998, a group led by Dr. Jame Thomson at UW-Madison discovered how to isolate and grow human embryonic stem cells. Bush was the first president to approve federal money toward embryonic stem cell research, but restricted it to cells removed from the embryo before August 2001, when he signed the funding bill into law.

According to the National Institute of Health, embryonic stem cells are supposed to reveal genetic changes in humans that could eventually prevent genetic diseases and be used as replacements to damaged cells. An NIH report concluded that adult stem cells have been exposed to more DNA abnormalities such as toxins and sunlight and lack the same potential to be applied in as many ways as embryonic stem-cells.

Published: October 10, 2006

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Story Source: The Capital Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Iran; University Administration; Science; Stem Cells


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