Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dem Victories in Md & Va Mean More Stem Cell Action?

More coverage of stem cells and the elections...

New Dems in Md., Va. won’t bring stem cell research funding right away
Katie Wilmeth, The Examiner
Nov 14, 2006 5:00 AM (3 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 9 of 5,967 articles

WASHINGTON - Despite victories for Democrats who support stem cell research in the Maryland governor’s race and the U.S. Senate race in Virginia, local biotechnology industry officials aren’t expecting a huge shift in policy anytime soon.

Virginia Democrat Jim Webb’s win in the U.S. Senate that captured the Senate majority for the party and Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley’s win in Maryland may eventually make some waves, but “it’s way too soon to tell,” said C. Robert Eaton, president of MdBio, an organization that represents the interests of the biotech industry in Maryland.

Eaton said the organization has no plans to meet with Governor-elect Martin O’Malley, but “I’d love to hear what their plans are and hope they get up to speed on [the industry].”

Maryland garnered national attention under outgoing Gov. Robert Ehrlich with the establishment of the Maryland Stem Cell Commission and a $15 million stem cell research fund. The commission is currently accepting grant proposals from Maryland-based researchers.

Funding for stem cell research has been a hot topic in the Washington region, and particularly in Maryland, recently. But it comes down to those in the scientific community — not in the political arena — who are largely shaping the progress, said stem cell research watchers.

Funding for stem cell research “primarily depends on whether the universities or hospitals think they have something to add.

Once they take up the issue of stem cells, then the politics comes in,” said Gail Pressberg, author of “The Promise of Politics of Stem Cell Research.”

Johns Hopkins University in Maryland is a leader in stem cell research, which helped secure funding from the state, Pressburg said. But in Virginia, where state universities haven’t focused on the issue, a Webb win isn’t likely to turn the tide locally.

However, the fact that Webb tipped the scales on the national level may eventually lead to new legislation, she said.

“It makes a difference when the party in favor of stem cell research controls the agenda by chairing the committees,” Pressberg said. “But it’s no guarantee ... they have to first deal with Iraq. I’ve talked to a bunch of lobbyists and nobody has a clue as to when this might come out.”


1 comment:

GATC said...

Actually, the politicos and activists are coming across as incredibly ignorant of the science. It is highly unlikely we will see any therapeutic benefit from “embryonic” stem cells in even the distant future. Perhaps a bit more benefit from autologous “adult” stem cells. Even our best UVa undergraduates seem to have it figured-out; see:


I can only hope that MJFs foundation has a reputable SAB that reviews their grants.