Vatican Holds Second Adult Stem Cell Research Conference

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Apr 12, 2013   |   1:27PM   |   The Vatican

This week the Vatican is hosting another adult stem cell conference bringing together some of the top scientists in the field.

The conference, the second held by the Vatican, is called “Regenerative Medicine – A Fundamental Shift in Science & Culture.” It is a collaboration between the Pontifical Council for Culture, NeoStem, an adult stem cell company, STOQ International, a non-profit that encourages dialogue between Church and science, and The Stem for Life Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to spreading the good news about adult stem cells.

According to Dr. Robin Smith, CEO of NeoStem and President of the Stem For Life Foundation, the conference will focus on the misconceptions surrounding stem cell science. From the conference press release:

“We created this event so that we could educate the world on the ability of adult stem cell therapies to address countless diseases and medical conditions, reducing suffering on a truly global scale,” said Dr. Robin Smith, President of The Stem for Life Foundation and CEO of NeoStem. “To tell this story of hope and healing, and to address the many misconceptions surrounding stem cell therapies, we have gathered leaders and pioneers of the regenerative medicine industry, as well as patients who have received adult stem cell therapies, journalists, ethicists, educators, policy experts and religious officials. The human body holds the secrets to healing and this landmark event will sound a clarion call.”

Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s Science and Faith foundation, hopes the conference will address some of the “prejudice and antagonism” against adult stem cell research that exists today.

One of the worthy goals of the conference is to “expand global awareness of the here-and-now opportunities of adult stem cell therapies, reducing misperceptions surrounding the field of cellular research.”

The moderators include Meredith Viera from NBC News, Bill Hemmer from Fox News, and Peggy Noonan from the Wall Street Journal.

The key note speaker will be Dr. John Gurdon who is the 2012 Nobel Prize Winner for Physiology or Medicine for his work with cloning and stem cells. Gurdon told Vatican Radio, “I think there is a lot to be said for using adult stem cells because they have a more limited range of cells they can form and that might be very useful.”

Monsignor Trajny says the conference will highlight “research models of excellence that are…in tune with the highest moral values of protecting the life and dignity of the human being from the moment of conception.”

That is exactly what the stem cell field needs: a focus on research that protects the life and dignity of all human beings, even the smallest and most vulnerable of our species.



Once again the Church is proving that it is not “anti-science.” It is instead “anti-unethical science.” The key to progress is to proceed ethically. Good science and good ethics can, and do, go together.

The Catholic News Agency reports on Dr. Smith’s comments about the future of ethical stem cell science:

“I think that it speaks for itself, in the fact there are 4,300 clinical trials using adult stem cells and only 26 using embryonic stem cells,” Smith said in response to a question from CNA….

The more people understand the scientific advances, the more “we’ll see that people are starting to learn that the future of stem cell therapy is adult stem cells,” Smith predicted.