Vatican Puts $1 Million Behind Adult Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 20, 2011   |   6:09PM   |   The Vatican

The Catholic Church is teaming up with a biotech firm that is engaging in adult stem cell research — helping prove its contention that it is supportive of stem cell research without destroying human life.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture has announced steps forward in their partnership designed to advance adult stem cell research with NeoStem, an international biopharmaceutical company.

In a press conference at the Vatican, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Dr. Robin L. Smith, Chairman and CEO of NeoStem, and Reverend Tomasz Trafny, Head of the Science and Faith Department at the Pontifical Council for Culture, provided further details on both their ongoing partnership and on a groundbreaking event the international Vatican conference on adult stem cells which is scheduled for November 9 – 11, 2011 at the Vatican.

“Today we are making history. I am here with you today because of an historic collaboration between the Vatican and NeoStem which is already underway, and also to tell you about our upcoming event in November to further these efforts,” NeoStem’s Chairman and CEO, Robin Smith said. “We believe Adult Stem Cells will be the answer to so many debilitating problems impacting people all over the world, of all ages, in all walks of life. We look forward to working together with Father Trafny, Cardinal Ravasi and other Church leaders  to be able to demonstrate that faith and technology can work together to find ethical solutions to human kind’s most ancient problems.”

Reverend Tomasz Trafny added, “The unique collaboration with NeoStem must focus on two considerations.”

Trafny added, “The first one is related to the sharing of the same sensitivity for ethical values that has at its center the protection of human life at all stages of its existence. The second concerns investigation on cultural consequences that will be caused by scientific discoveries in the field of adult stem cell research and adult stem cell applications in regenerative medicine. For these reasons, we’ve entered into a long term formal agreement with NeoStem and are working together tracing paths of further developments, activities and additional collaborations.”

The joint mission of the partnership, with the complete support of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and the Pontifical Academy for Life, will be to foster the highest levels of scientific research on adult stem cells and to explore the cultural, ethical and human implications of their use and to create awareness about the promise of scientific research in concordance with ethical values through the further development of adult stem cell technology.

The join venture will work to determine short-term and long-term actions which political, scientific, educational, and religious leaders can take to be part of the cultural paradigm shift arising from the next wave – regenerative medicine and to lay the groundwork for a collaborative network of scientists and patrons who embrace the promise of adult stem cells to reduce human suffering, advance scientific research on adult stem cells and explore their clinical application in the field of regenerative medicine, as well as the cultural impact of such research.

The November conference will include the foremost experts in adult stem cell research and recognized leaders in medicine, but, unlike a research-focused conference, attendees will include Church and scientific leaders, policymakers, ethicists, educators, Ministers of Health from around the world, ambassadors to the Holy See, and representatives of the stem cell therapeutic business community to foster a multidisciplinary approach to advance science as there are ethical, spiritual societal, religious and cultural impacts with every discovery creating the potential to influence many people worldwide.

Through keynote speakers, panel discussions, patient case studies, video, and breakout sessions, the conference will create greater awareness of adult stem cells and their applications, explore the latest research and developments in the field, and discuss and debate the implications for the future of culture, medicine, religion, and public policy. The event will reach an even wider audience than its 350 invited guests through radio and television broadcast. The event is detailed at a newly launched website,