Maryland Stem Cell Research Cmte Gets Members, Funding Debate Starts

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

Maryland Stem Cell Research Cmte Gets Members, Funding Debate Starts Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 7, 2006

Annapolis, MD ( — Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich and other state leaders, as well as the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, named fifteen members to the state’s new stem cell research committee. The committee will be responsible for doling out the $15 million state lawmakers earmarked for the research.

The commission will appoint an independent scientific peer review committee that will review and evaluate grants proposals for spending the funds and make recommendations to the committee.

In announcing his selections, Ehrlich said the commission "will dictate the most appropriate areas for dollars."

Ehrlich hoped that the committee would not "ever be bogged down with abortion politics or divisiveness to any extent."

However, Ehrlich appointee Joseph Capizzi, a professor at Catholic University, said he is opposed to spending taxpayer funds on embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of human life. He said he opposed the practice "without question," according to an AP report.

"The perspective I represent is one opposed to destroying embryos for the sake of research," Capizzi said.

Capizzi indicated he knows he probably won’t win any votes to deny embryonic stem cell research funding but "my job is to try to win the ones I’m able to win."

Gloria Marrow, one of four members appointed by the state Senate President and House Speaker

Linda Powers, managing director of Bethesda-based Toucan Capital, which invests in biotech firms, told AP that the committee’s job is to "let the best cell type win."

"All the cell types are covered and they are all on an equal footing, let the best cell types and the best science win," Powers said.

Some of the appointees to the committee include: Bowen Weisheit Jr., a member of the board of the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; John Kellermann, a Parkinson’s sufferer who has advocated for embryonic stem cell research; Karen Rothenberg, dean and professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law; Joel Zaiman, a scholar at the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies; and Jack Chow, a former assistant director-general of the World Health Organization.

The $15 million has been authorized for one year and a good chunk of it is expected to sent to researchers at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

The measure providing for the grants originally was very strongly biased in favor of embryonic stem cell research. It called on the state to give priority to funding it and did not include and religious leaders on a state panel that will determine how the money is spent.

Though the state Senate approved changes to the bill removing the priority status and adding two religious members to the panel, money will still likely go towards embryonic stem cell research.

Related web sites:
Maryland State legislature –
Maryland Gov Bob Ehrlich –