The stem cell race: hoping for a piece of the stem-cell research pie, legislators and governors are hurrying to establish programs. But not all lawmakers are eager to embrace of finance them.In the months since the fall elections, lawmakers in statehouses across the country have been racing to propose stem-cell-research programs worth up to $1 billion in state money.
Their actions come at a difficult time for state governments. Many face tight budgets. And a thorny ethical debate, played out in the presidential election and beginning again at the state level, has surrounded the research since scientists first isolated human embryonic stem cells and said the cells could help treat conditions like diabetes and Parkinson's disease Parkinson's disease or Parkinsonism, degenerative brain disorder first described by the English surgeon James Parkinson in 1817. When there is no known cause, the disease usually appears after age 40 and is referred to as Parkinson's disease. .
But lawmakers say they have little choice but to act. California voters passed a $3 billion ballot initiative in November to finance stem-cell research Noun 1. stem-cell research - research on stem cells and their use in medicine
biological research - scientific research conducted by biologists
embryonic stem-cell research - biological research on stem cells derived from embryos and on their use in medicine . That has led officials in other states to fear that scientists will follow the money and head west. And they don't see help coming from the federal government either, which hasn't given any indication that it will change its policy of restricting money provided by the National Institutes of Health for such research.
In January, New Jersey and New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of proposed plans worth a total of nearly $1.4 billion to shore up their positions alongside California.
New Jersey's Senate president and acting governor, Richard J. Codey, made stem-cell research a core issue in his State of the State address The State of the State Address (alternatively Condition of the State Address) is a speech customarily given once each year by the governors of most states of the United States. by proposing a $380 million program. (New Jersey is the only state other than California to have enacted a law expressly supporting stem-cell research.) In New York, Senator David A. Paterson proposed a $1 billion initiative to set up the New York Stem Cell stem cell
In living organisms, an undifferentiated cell that can produce other cells that eventually make up specialized tissues and organs. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Research Institute and provide research grants over the next decade.
REACTION TO PRESIDENT
As more states begin to follow California's lead, advocates of the research like Daniel Perry are striking an optimistic chord.
"Had President Bush opened the doors to full funding of NIH "Not invented here." See digispeak.
NIH - The United States National Institutes of Health. to fund research on stem cells stem cells, unspecialized human or animal cells that can produce mature specialized body cells and at the same time replicate themselves. Embryonic stem cells are derived from a blastocyst (the blastula typical of placental mammals; see embryo), which is very young , I dare say we would not be seeing as much public funding Public funding is money given from tax revenue or other governmental sources to an individual, organization, or entity. See also
In August 2001 President Bush said the federal government would limit its financing of research on human embryonic stem cells to studies involving cells from colonies, or lines, that existed at the time. While it was once thought that as many as 78 lines would be eligible for NIH funds, only 22 are currently available, an amount that many scientists says is insufficient for new research.
In FY 2003, the NIH provided $24 million for 118 grants on stem-cell research.
James F. Battey Jr., chairman of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force, said the amount of federal money provided depended on the number and quality of grant applications in a given year.
"We have not had a cap on the amount of money we're prepared to spend," he said.
Dr. Battey added that he didn't think the federal government would compete with state plans.
"How do I see the federal effort and the state efforts? I see them as complementary," he said.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a popular catchphrase in many parts of the English-speaking world. It refers to the desire to be seen as being as good as one's neighbours or contemporaries using the comparative benchmarks of social caste or the accumulation of material goods.
But with some $300 million a year for stem-cell research in the state, California's commitment dwarfs the federal government's financial support. It even puts California on the same level as places like Sweden and Singapore that have made stem-cell research a national priority. The state is now in the process of setting up the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine after voters passed Proposition 71 with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
That's why states that have already invested in biomedical research Biomedical research (or experimental medicine), in general simply known as medical research, is the basic research or applied research conducted to aid the body of knowledge in the field of medicine. feel the need to protect their resources.
"We're seeing a lot of keeping up with the Joneses from an economic perspective," said Patrick Kelly For other uses, see Patrick and Kelly.
Patrick Kelly may refer to the following people:
Two weeks after Proposition 71 passed, Governor Jim Doyle
"Clearly Wisconsin has been at the forefront of stem-cell research since Dr. Thomson's discovery, but certainly it's clear that several other states are basically trying to catch up," said Melanie Fonder, a spokeswoman for the governor. "Wisconsin can't match California dollar for dollar, but California can't match what we have."
In Illinois, the state comptroller The power of the Knesset to supervise and review government policies and operations is exercised mainly through the state comptroller (Hebrew: מבקר המדינה has proposed a tax on cosmetic surgery cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes, such as the improvement of the appearance of the face by removing wrinkles or reshaping the nose. , a "nip-tuck tax," to provide $1 billion for stem-cell research over the next decade. Connecticut's governor, M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, has supported a $10 million to $20 million commitment to the research. And in Maryland, Senator Paula C. Hollinger, a Democrat, is proposing a $25 million investment using proceeds from a settlement with the tobacco industry.
Even in states such as Massachusetts that are not specifically seeking to finance stem-cell studies, lawmakers are urging laws that would signal that the research is legal and encouraged. Senate President Robert E. Travagllini introduced such a bill in early February.
But Governor Mitt Romney This article or section contains information about one or more candidates in an upcoming or ongoing election.
Content may change as the election approaches. is against the bill because it embraces research on stem cells derived from embryos specifically created for research, a process referred to as therapeutic cloning therapeutic cloning
A procedure in which damaged tissues or organs are repaired or replaced with genetically identical cells that originate from undifferentiated stem cells. . He plans to introduce his own bill that would establish criminal and civil penalties for research of that kind.
ADVOCATES PLAN BALLOT MEASURES
Although most of the recent proposals have come from state legislators, activists in some states are hoping to mimic the California ballot initiative.
A private advocacy group known as Cures for Florida is beginning to campaign for a measure that would provide $1 billion to $2 billion for embryonic-stem-cell research in the state, said Art Brownstein, who founded the group. "The success of what happened in California on Prop. 71 pushed us to do it," he said. "I'd like to get the same type of initiative."
Organizers of the measure must collect 611,226 signatures on petitions before it can be placed on the general-election ballot, according to the Florida secretary of state's office.
Not all state lawmakers are eager to embrace or finance stem-cell research. Several states are set to hear bills that would criminalize crim·i·nal·ize
tr.v. crim·i·nal·ized, crim·i·nal·iz·ing, crim·i·nal·iz·es
1. To impose a criminal penalty on or for; outlaw.
2. To treat as a criminal. research cloning, in which human embryos are cloned to make stem cells for experimental treatments. William B. Neaves, president of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, in Kansas City, Mo., said a proposed bah on research cloning "would do grave harm to research institutions across the state." He said if the bill passed, the institute would halt plans for a 600,000-square-foot facility in Missouri.
Although advocates are quick to tout plans to provide state resources, some researchers like Charles Jennings, executive director of Harvard's Stem Cell Institute, say it would help if the NIH were more closely involved in setting policy on stem-cell research.
"It's much more preferable to do this at the national level so you donate the money to the best researchers," he said.
The concern isn't only that grants will be based on where a researcher works in the country, but also that each state may have its own policy on the research. That could result in a patchwork quilt of different laws.
"Probably in reality the differences will be minute," said Kevin Wilson, director of public policy at the American Society for Cell Biology, "but in science that relies so heavily on collaboration and peer review, to have the same things done different ways in different states certainly won't be helpful."
RELATED ARTICLE: Stem cell debate splits politicians on question of life.
At age 17, Chelsea Zimmerman lost the ability to walk on her own. She suffered a serious spinal cord injury Spinal Cord Injury Definition
Spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord that causes loss of sensation and motor control.
Approximately 10,000 new spinal cord injuries (SCIs) occur each year in the United States. during a car crash that left her paralyzed par·a·lyze
tr.v. par·a·lyzed, par·a·lyz·ing, par·a·lyz·es
1. To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.
2. To make unable to move or act: paralyzed by fear. from the chest down. And although she is a prime example of a patient that some doctors say could benefit from embryonic stem cells, the now 22-year-old Zimmerman said she is opposed to the research.
"Do I want to walk again? That would be great. Do I want to see the suffering of others diminish? Of course I do. But I would never accept the harvesting of another human life for my comfort--no matter how small," she testified before a Senate committee in Missouri debating a ban on this type of stem-cell research.
But for many Missouri legislators, the real question is if cloned embryos created in a Petri dish pe·tri dish
A shallow circular dish with a loose-fitting cover, used to culture bacteria or other microorganisms.
a shallow, circular, glass or disposable plastic dish used to grow bacteria on solid media such as agar. through a procedure known as "therapeutic cloning" constitutes human life. Legislators who consider themselves firmly anti-abortion are torn over banning the procedure because of uncertainty whether the cells--often the size of a pin point--are, in fact, human.
"I think where most of us are at on this is trying to decide if there is actually a bright line that you can pick where life starts and where it doesn't start," said Senator Charles Shields.
Stem cells form very early in an embryo's development and can mature into a variety of cells to form organs and other body parts. Some scientists believe such cells could be used to help repair damaged body parts and cure diseases.
The controversy surrounds a bill that seeks to outlaw therapeutic cloning, also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer Noun 1. somatic cell nuclear transfer - moving a cell nucleus and its genetic material from one cell to another
nuclear transplantation, SCNT, somatic cell nuclear transplantation
biological research - scientific research conducted by biologists . In therapeutic cloning, the nucleus of a woman's unfertilized Adj. 1. unfertilized - not having been fertilized; "an unfertilized egg"
infertile, sterile, unfertile - incapable of reproducing; "an infertile couple" egg is removed and replaced with the nucleus of another cell from a human body. The egg is then stimulated to divide, as it would when fertilized fer·til·ize
v. fer·til·ized, fer·til·iz·ing, fer·til·iz·es
1. To cause the fertilization of (an ovum, for example).
2. by a sperm, and the stem cells are harvested.
But are those cells human?
Some anti-abortion groups--including Missouri Right to Life--say yes. However, some scientists and doctors say the only way to create human life is to use an egg fertilized by a sperm.
The debate has divided many Missouri politicians.
Republican Governor Matt Blunt, who is opposed to abortion, said he supports therapeutic cloning because he does not believe it results in human life because the egg is not fertilized. As the bill stands, Blunt said he likely would veto it.
"If I believed it was (creating human life], then I would believe we should ban it. I don't believe it constitutes the creation of a new human life," he said.
Senator Charles Wheeler, a medical doctor agrees.
"I believe you have to have a sperm fertilize an egg and in somatic cell nuclear transfer there is no sperm. I feel that you cannot indict in·dict
tr.v. in·dict·ed, in·dict·ing, in·dicts
1. To accuse of wrongdoing; charge: a book that indicts modern values.
2. a physician for wanting to use a non-sperm structure to produce a heart cell or a brain cell," Wheeler said.
But Dr. Robert Onder, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Washington University who supports the ban, testified to a Senate committee that therapeutic cloning creates life. As evidence, he noted that Dolly the cloned sheep was created through somatic cell nuclear transfer.
Having listened carefully to both sides of the stem cell debate, Senator Jason Crowell said he is struggling to decide if therapeutic cloning results in "life of Frankenstein." That distinction is key for Crowell who strongly opposes any form of abortion.
When I cast this vote, I'm going to believe in it," Crowell said. "If it costs me my seat, if it costs me my ability to run for other office [or] if it costs me friendships, so be it."
--Heather J. Carlson, Associated Press
RELATED ARTICLE: A wide range of policies.
State approaches to stem cell research policy Stem cell research policy, a controversial topic, varies significantly throughout the world. There are overlapping jurisdictions of international organizations, nations, and states or provinces. range from laws in California and New Jersey, which encourage embryonic stem cell research, including on cloned embryos, to South Dakota's law, which strictly forbids research on embryos regardless of the source. Many states restrict research on aborted fetuses or embryos unless permission is granted from the mother. Almost half of the states also restrict the sale of fetuses or embryos. Louisiana is the only state that specifically prohibits research on in vitro fertilization in vitro fertilization (vē`trō, vĭ`trō), technique for conception of a human embryo outside the mother's body. Several ova, or eggs, are removed from the mother's body and placed in special laboratory culture dishes (Petri dishes); embryos; Illinois and Michigan prohibit research on live embryos. Nebraska prohibits the use of state funds for embryonic stem cell research.
A significant portion of state legislative activity related to stem cell research has focused on the creation of cloned embryos for research. Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota prohibit the cloning of embryos for the purpose of research or reproduction. Virginia's human cloning law also bans cloning for reproduction and may bah cloning for research, but it is unclear because of some ambiguity in the statute. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island Rhode Island, island, United States
Rhode Island, island, 15 mi (24 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide, S R.I., at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. It is the largest island in the state, with steep cliffs and excellent beaches. also have human cloning laws that prohibit cloning for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy, but allow it for research. Missouri also forbids the use of state funds for reproductive cloning reproductive cloning
The genetic duplication of an existing organism especially by transferring the nucleus of a somatic cell of the organism into an enucleated oocyte. but not for cloning for the purpose of stem cell research. Human cloning as well as state and private sector funding of embryonic stem cell research is unrestricted in all jurisdictions with no legislation in this area.
--Alissa Johnson, NCSL NCSL National Conference of State Legislatures
NCSL National College for School Leadership
NCSL National Conference of Standards Laboratories
NCSL National Council of State Legislators
NCSL National Computer Systems Laboratory (NIST)
Silla Brush is a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Copyright 2005, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Reprinted with permission.