September 08, 2006

Guest Post:
The Hidden Cost of our Stem Cell Policy

The President’s stem cell policy not only hurts federal research, but also wastes state and private money. In a report entitled “Too Much to Ask”, the Center for American Progress found that states have spent 86% of their funding on building infrastructure, training scientists and attracting researchers to the state, not on actual research.

The restrictive federal policy means researchers cannot use facilities or equipment purchased with federal funds to conduct research on stem cell lines that are ineligible for federal funding. This has forced states and private funders to spend large sums of money on redundant equipment and laboratories, as well as create expensive bureaucracies to track which costs can be paid with federal funds.

New Jersey is spending 75% of its money for stem cell research on new equipment and a stem cell research institute. The University of California-San Francisco is spending $6 million to remake a lab for stem cell research. As Dr. Dave Scadden, Co-Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, said, “It really is something that has a very real impact and I can tell you, at our own center we have people using methods of analysis that we haven’t used in 10 years simply because the instruments that we usually use are ones that have federal money associated with them.”

While a higher percentage of future state funding will go to actual research projects, federal inaction is increasing the burden on state governments, taxpayers and private investors, and slowing down stem cell research too.
- Sam Berger, Research Assistant at the Progressive Bioethics Initiative at the Center for American Progress

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