Connecticut Stem Cell Research Committee Sends 12M to University

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 21, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Connecticut Stem Cell Research Committee Sends 12M to University

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 21
, 2006

Hartford, CT ( — The advisory committee charged with making recommendations for spending $20 million in taxpayer money on stem cell research in the state has awarded $12 million of the funds to the University of Connecticut.

UConn received funding for 15 grants it submitted to the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee for work on both embryonic and adult stem cells.

The grants to UConn, and also a handful of non-profit organizations, are the first in a 10-year $100 million program state lawmakers approved.

In June, the committee received 70 funding requests, including dozens of letters from scientists and institutions wanting to conduct stem cell research.

Two of the leading requests for funds came from Yale University and the University of Connecticut. Together, they applied for $12.5 million to build three research facilities where their scientists will study human embryonic stem cells.

The new facilities are needed, the colleges say, because they can’t use federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.

President Bush, in August 2001, put forward an executive order prohibiting the use of tax funds to pay for new embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of human life. Instead, Bush has spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually on adult stem cells, which have already provided dozens of cures and treatments.

Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, signed the measure allowing the funding in June 2005. It bans human reproductive cloning and the sale of human eggs, sperm and embryos, but allows human cloning for research purposes.

The law prohibits human embryos used in research from growing past 14 days, which detractors say mandates that all days-old unborn children must be killed for their stem cells.

In February, the panel determined the first $20 million it will dole out should go to scientists who are conducting embryonic stem cell research, which upset pro-life advocates.

Some lawmakers were concerned about spending the money because the deficit for fiscal year 2006-07 is projected to be anywhere from $600 million to $1.3 billion.

Connecticut is one of three states, along with Illinois and California, to authorize using taxpayer funds for stem cell research — though others are hoping to join the list.