Friday, February 9, 2007

Stem Cell Woes and Wars

From Inside Higher Ed

Missouri lawmakers cut $113 million in university building projects from a $335 million higher education bill Wednesday, as The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported. Their reason? As the Post-Dispatch puts it, “The committee chairman, Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, said the projects that had been cut had been identified as possibly housing stem cell research in the future.”

Ouch - scene set... might expect that administrators would be jumping for joy in Minnesota, where a House committee met Wednesday to debate a bill explicitly affirming the ability of the University of Minnesota to spend state-appropriated funds on stem cell research.

Yet, administrators’ lukewarm, “no official position” response perhaps reflects a larger trend for many public universities to insulate themselves, as much as possible, from the political debate.

“My thought is that they need kind of an affirmative statement from the state that this is an appropriate thing to do,” says State Rep. Phyllis Kahn

[Mr Bonzo bows to Representative Kahn’s scientific chops. She has a PhD in biophysics from Yale and her opinions on such matters should be treated with the utmost respect.]

The university’s conservative policy regarding state funds simply reflects its existence within a mixed political climate regarding stem cell research, Wagner [a professor of pediatrics and director of clinical research for the Stem Cell Institute] says — more mixed than in other states like Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and, of course, California, that have more actively pursued the research. “Here we had the forethought of creating a stem cell institute but in an environment that didn’t support it,” he says.

Mr. Bonzo is not usually very sympathetic to BigU’s administration, but in this case he almost feels sorry for them.... Stem cell research is apparently going to be one of those areas that one has to be doing in order to be TrulyGreat. However will we achieve our ambitious aspirations?

Signing out, Mr. B, who will be leaving next Monday to go to Bluest State to talk in Anaheim about biomaterials and perhaps catch a few mice. Mr. and Mrs. Bonzo will also be visiting AlexBonzo in the City by the Bay. the SF orchestra and Hedda Gabler are on tap, possibly lamb chops at John's Grill, so postings likely will be sparse.

ps. (February 10, 2007) This just in from the StarTribune:

Editorial: State should endorse funding of cell studies

U of M's embryonic research is both important and ethical.

Published: February 10, 2007

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