Life as an Extreme Sport

UW joins stem cell game

The University of Washington gets fully in to the privately funded stem cell research game, according to the alumni newsletter:

Orin Smith, retired Starbucks president and chief executive officer, has donated $5 million for the UW’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. Smith, a 1965 UW graduate, is chairman of the board for UW Medicine. UW Medicine also has received a $1 million anonymous gift for stem cell research.

Dr. Randall Moon, director of the institute, said that “stem cell research is key to the success of developing new therapies for many diseases and injuries, and Orin Smith’s wonderful and timely support of the institute is really a gift to the patients of today and of the future, who will benefit from these therapies.”

Progress, he said, in stem cell research and regenerative medicine has been “severely thwarted by federal policies” that state federal funding can only be used for research on certain lines of embryonic stem cells and on adult stem cells. UW scientists have said the existing lines of stem cells eventually will wear out. And adult stem cells, they have said, do not hold the promise that embryonic cells do.

These policies have put “us way behind where we would have been” had researchers been allowed to use new lines of embryonic stem cells for their research, Smith said. If U.S. researchers can’t move forward with stem cell research, then scientists in other countries will, he said.

This is one of those issues where I agree, 100%, with the press coming out of AJOB: if the US doesn’t do it, someone else will, and if we want any say in how the technology is being used, we’ve got to get in there and create the technology to begin with. This is just another in a growing example of universities looking outside the federal government in order to do just that.