Connecticut Awards Stem Cell Research Funds to Yale, Wesleyan Universities

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Connecticut Awards Stem Cell Research Funds to Yale, Wesleyan Universities Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 28
, 2006

Hartford, CT ( — The Yale School of Medicine and Wesleyan University are joining the University of Connecticut as recipients of grant money from the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee. The panel is charged with distributing $20 million in taxpayer money on stem cell research.

UConn received funding for 15 grants and the grants to the other universities are the first in a 10-year $100 million program state lawmakers approved last year.

Yale President Richard Levin told the Yale Daily News he was happy the Ivy League college received some of the grant money.

"We’ve known that this was going to happen at some point, and we have been hoping that state money would come through," Levin said.

Governor Jodi Rell issues a statement about the embryonic and adult stem cell research funding and said "Connecticut becomes a national leader" thanks to the 2005 law.

That measure 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.

The Connecticut stem cell research grants upset pro-life advocates because much of the money will be spent on embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to be tried on human because of numerous problems and involves the destruction of human life.

In fact, the Yale School of Medicine is currently building a human embryonic stem cell culture laboratory and will use the funds to complete the work.

President Bush, in August 2001, put forward an executive order prohibiting the use of federal 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 State Department of Public Health Commissioner Robert Galvin — who also chaired the stem cell research panel — said the colleges were the best places for the state grants to be spent.

"After careful consideration and review by both an international panel of experts and by this committee, we are confident that Connecticut is investing in stem cell research projects that will yield significant findings for the long term," he told the Daily News.

However, Yale University came under federal investigation this summer for apparently mismanaging federal stem cell research grants. It was accused of possible expense padding to obtain more funds than it deserved for the research.

The Defense Department, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services requested 10 years worth of financial documents related to grants the educational institution has received.

Levin told faculty and staff members to give "top priority" to the federal government’s requests for information for its probe.

The Wall St. Journal reported that both Yale and government officials would not say why the Pentagon is involved in the investigation. Yale received subpoenas for the grant documents last week.

Yale University received about $350 million in federal funding in 2005.

In June, Yale came under fire when news surfaced that scientists there are mixing human and animal cells in bizarre research that goes to the heart of bioethics and concerns over how far researchers are willing to go to conduct experiments.

Yale University scientists, funded by the United States government, are inserting millions of human brain cells into the heads of monkeys afflicted with Parkinson’s disease.

They say the experiments will help them better understand the disease and possible provide a cure.

Yale researcher Gene Redmond and his team are conducting the work on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts because the island, and its neighbor Nevis, have a large population of feral African monkeys.

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.