Stem Cells: Saving Lives or Crossing Lines?

11/02/04

Conference at Rice University Nov. 20-21 will address ways to better inform the American public about the importance of a U.S. role in human embryonic stem cell research

Science journalists, policy-makers, scientists, ethicists and business leaders from the United States and the United Kingdom will meet at Rice University Nov. 20-21 to determine ways to promote awareness of and discuss the concerns about human embryonic stem cell research among the general public.

"As scientists wait for the public and policy-makers to sort out the controversies and ethical dilemmas surrounding human embryonic stem cell research, the United States could for the first time in modern history lose its leadership role in biomedical research," said Neal Lane, university professor at Rice and senior fellow in science and technology at Rice's Baker Institute for Public Policy. "We're bringing together experts from the worlds of science, business, government, journalism and academia to discuss whether the United States can and should be a leader in human embryonic stem cell research and to recommend how to engage the public in a dialogue on this vital issue."

Titled "Stem Cells: Saving Lives or Crossing Lines," the conference will address the medical, political and economic consequences of letting other nations take over the United States' leadership role in biomedical research, as well as the ethical issues that should be considered in regulating stem cell research if the U.S. government lifts restrictions on such studies.

Among the speakers will be Thomas Okarma, CEO and president of Geron Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company that has developed human embryonic stem cell technology for therapeutic and diagnostic products for cancer, and Suzi Leather, head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the regulatory agency that controls human embryonic stem cell research in the U.K. Speakers from NBC News, 60 Minutes (CBS), National Institutes of Health, Harvard Business School, Cogene Biotech Ventures, Princeton University, Research!America, Michigan State University and other institutions and businesses are on the agenda also.

The conference will be held in Rice's Baker Institute, which is co-sponsoring the event with Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The conference is also sponsored in part by a grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

For a complete list of speakers and the conference agenda, go to http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~neal/stemcell/.

News media who want to attend should R.S.V.P. to B.J. Almond at balmond@rice.edu or 713-348-6770.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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