Stacked Panel to Tell Congress to Fund More Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 15, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stacked Panel to Tell Congress to Fund More Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 15
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — A stacked panel will tell members of the Senate on Thursday that Congress should green light more funding for embryonic stem cell research and should overturn the federal law a judge has cited in his decision to temporarily halt government funding authorized under President Barack Obama’s executive order.

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who is a forceful abortion and embryonic stem cell research proponent, will head the hearing.

He was the lead Senate sponsor of two bills in 2006 and 2007 to attempt to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research even though it involves the destruction of human life and has not worked well in animal studies because the cells cause tumors and are rejected by the immune system.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education will hear from two panels.

The first features only Francis Collins, the man who heads up the National Institutes of Health and who has come under sharp criticism.

Collins has fiercely opposed efforts by adult stem cells scientists to stop the taxpayer financing Obama authorized of embryonic stem cell research. When a judge ordered it temporarily halted, Collins came under fire for essentially telling scientists who had already received taxpayer dollars they could ignore the decision.

Later, when a federal appeals court temporarily stopped the temporarily injunction, Collins and NIH staffers threw out protocols and began moving at breakneck speed to authorize as much government-funding for embryonic stem cell research as possible in case the appeals court reverses itself or the judge overturns the executive order.

The second panel includes four scientists — all but one of whom aggressively promote embryonic stem cell research.

The proponents include George Daley of Children’s Hospital Boston, Sean Morrison of University of Michigan and Cody Unser of a self-named foundation.

On the other side is Dr. Jean Peduzzi-Nelson, the Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan.

Peduzzi-Nelson is no stranger to Senate hearings on stem cell research and pro-ESCR Democrats tried to pressure and intimidate her during testimony in July 2004.

Then teaching at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Peduzzi-Nelson told the senators that adult stem cells work at least as well as embryonic stem cells — if not better — when it comes to treating diseases.

That’s when Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, interjected and reminded Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson she was under oath, and asked, "Are you a member of a pro-life committee?"

Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who organized the hearing that was supposed to focus on the success of adults stem cells, questioned the relevance of the question, but Lautenberg persisted.

"Whether I’m pro-life or pro-choice, I wish all these types of things could be kept out of the discussion," Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson responded.

Peduzzi-Nelson said she didn’t recall joining any group on either side of the abortion debate, but said she thought embryonic stem cell research was the needless destruction of human life in the face of adult stem cell research successes.


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