Christopher Reeve Widow Dana, Stem Cell Research Advocate, Passes Away

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 7, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Christopher Reeve Widow Dana, Stem Cell Research Advocate, Passes Away Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 7, 2006

New York, NY ( — Dana Reeve, the actress who rose to national prominence advocating embryonic stem cell research with her husband Christopher Reeve, passed away on Monday night at the age of 44 after battling lung cancer.

Kathy Lewis of the Christopher Reeve Foundation told the New York Times that Reeve was not a smoker and had been battling the disease for some time.

Dana Reeve had roles on the hit television series Law and Order and the daytime drama All My Children, but her advocacy of stem cell research both before and after the death of her husband gained her significant name recognition.

After the Superman star passed away, Dana Reeve was selected to replace him as the chair of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

Under her direction, the foundation gave away more than $8 million in grants to scientists conducting stem cell research work.

Reeve drew the opposition of pro-life advocates for not only advocating embryonic stem cell research, which destroys human life, but for endorsing John Kerry during the presidential elections.

Reeve attacked President Bush’s policy prohibiting federal funding of new embryonic stem cell research.

In August 2001, Bush put forward the policy against taxpayer funding of new research that destroys unborn children. Instead, Bush has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on research involving adult stem cells, which has already produced dozens of treatments and cures.

Reeve lobbied Congress with other Hollywood actors like Michael J. Fox and Mary Tyler Moore to vote for using taxpayer dollars for unproven embryonic stem cell research. The measure they supported would have overturned Bush’s limits.

Scientists who favor embryonic stem cells say they hold the promise of being able to change into any kind of stem cell, which would allow them to cure virtually any disease. However, researchers in Australia have found adult stem cells can do the same thing.

Scientists at Australia’s Griffith University have ended a four year study on olfactory stem cells and found that they can be turned into heart cells, brain cells, nerve cells and almost any other kind of cell in the human body.

In addition, they can be developed without the kind of problems embryonic stem cells have had when injected into animals — including being rejected or causing tumors to develop.

Brisbane neurologist Peter Silburn, a member of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, pointed to the taking of adult stem cells from patients with Parkinson’s and turning them into neurones.

"We can now learn about the condition in ways we never could before," Silburn told the Australian.