Vatican Spends $1 Million Promoting Adult Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Oct 25, 2011   |   9:46AM   |   Washington, DC

The Vatican is putting its money where its mouth is, to the tune of $1 million and collaborating with a New York adult stem cell company NeoStem.  The Church is not investing in the company by buying stocks, which some have suggested is the real motive: profit. Instead the Church is giving money for starting a non-profit organization focused on fund raising, education and putting on an adult stem cell conference in Rome.  From the LA Times:

…the Vatican recently signed a $1-million compact with [Dr. Robin] Smith’s New York company, NeoStem, to collaborate on adult stem cell education and research.

The partners will hold a conference in Rome in November that is expected to attract some of the world’s leading experts on adult stem cells, the less controversial cousins of embryonic stem cells.

Smith, who was in Southern California recently for a stem cell conference in Pasadena, was quick to emphasize that the Vatican is not investing in her company, which is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Most of the collaboration will involve a nonprofit company established by NeoStem, the Stem for Life Foundation, she said. The Vatican’s role will include fundraising, launching educational campaigns, contributing to research and sponsoring the Rome conference, Smith said.

The partnership is rare, perhaps unprecedented. “It is unusual, ” said Father Tomasz Trafny, the Vatican’s point man on the deal. “Never in history [have] we entered into such [a] collaboration.”

Trafny, a Polish-born priest who heads a science and theology unit within the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the church decided to collaborate with NeoStem for two reasons.

“First, they have a strong interest in … searching for the cultural impact of their own work, which is very unusual,” he said. “Many companies will look at the profit and only at the profit.

“And the second, of course, is that they share the same moral, ethical sensitivity…. Because of that ethical position, we entered into this unique collaboration.”

Please consider putting your money where you mouth is as well and donate to the Stem for Life Foundation.  From their website:

The Stem for Life Foundation (SFLF) is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization established to increase public education in all areas of adult stem cell research and application, to encourage and support the field of research involving adult stem cells, and to provide medicine’s most-vulnerable populations with access to cutting-edge adult stem cell technologies.

All initiatives will aim at providing information, teaching and research regarding important issues of human health and of the present and future of medical progress in relation to adult stem cell research and with respect to the great value of human life. NeoStem and the Pontifical Council for Culture, through their collaboration, aspire to reach religious leaders and academicians working in the Pontifical and Catholic Institutions but also to extend their work and results to different institutions beyond the Catholic environment. Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and a practicing pro-life Catholic who writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for five years and has been interviewed on EWTN radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life. Taylor has a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of San Francisco with a national certification in clinical Molecular Biology MB (ASCP).