Dr. Leroy Hood on Embryonic Stem Cell Research & Cloning of Humans for Experimental Purposes
"My Life and Adventures Integrating Biology and Technology," Leroy
Hood's Commemorative Lecture for the 2002
"The agents for preventive medicine will include drugs,embryonic stem cell therapy, engineered proteins, genetically-engineered cells, and many others."
"Is it appropriate to use germ line genetic engineering to avoid disease or to improve the human condition (e.g., increase intelligence)? This debate will be a major societal issue for the future. How will society balance the narrow religious dictates of the few against the virtually unlimited potential medical opportunities for the many presented by controversial areas (in the United States) such as embryonic stem cells? As we attack the problems of mental disease, we will identify genes that predispose to particular behaviors such as aggression. How will we deal with this knowledge? To block this type of research means that perhaps 2% of humans will remain psychologically impaired—locked in the prisons of mental illness. The most reasonable approach to dealing with most of these issues is to have a thoughtful, informed, and rational public. Once again, the Institute for Systems Biology sees real opportunities for bringing these issues to society through education."
Interview on OReilly Network (http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2002/01/18/hood.html?page=3)
I think stem cells are one of the greatest potential
preventive therapeutic agents in the world of medicine, and it's just ridiculous that the religious
right has put these pathetic constraints on what we can do in sorting out
how to deal with the human condition, and treat people, and everything. The
whole confluence of the religious with science--and you see that in terms of
creationism too--is something that
Questions of germ line genetic engineering and whether humans should take a hand in their own evolution and direct the specification of intelligence, or of physical ability, or memory, or all of those kinds of things, are interesting questions. I think from opportunity always comes challenge, and what you have to do is balance the challenge and the opportunity. I think there are very rational ways for doing that, that don't inhibit and prevent, but our society can be pretty reactionary at times, and not deal well with these kinds of subjects.
From the Institute for Systems Biology Website (http://www.systemsbiology.org/Default.aspx?pagename=predictiveandpreventive):
Since it is an anathema
in medicine to predict without being able to cure or prevent, we will use systems
approaches over the next 15-25 years to place these defective genes in the
context of their biological
systems and learn how to circumvent their limitations. This is preventive
medicine. The agents for preventive medicine will include drugs, embryonic stem cell therapy, engineered
proteins, genetically-engineered cells, and many others.
Puget Sound Business Journal (Leroy Hood mentioned in 8th paragraph):
From the December 17, 2004 print edition
A group of prominent scientists, researchers and
doctors is teaming up to push for a state law permitting embryonic stem-cell
The effort, fueled by concerns that other states are poised to drain away top people and funding from the region's research institutions and biotechnology companies, aims to keep local researchers competitive in a science that many believe will yield cures for diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
"We don't want
Schual-Berke's bill is expected to call for a
state policy permitting stem-cell research, but unlike in
The stem-cell measure is one of several proposals
state leaders are now floating to bolster
Some researchers have been ambivalent toward a
stem-cell research policy in
Last year, a similar measure failed. While many researchers and scientists supported the 2004 session's stem-cell research bill, their efforts were not well organized, said Bill Bell, executive director of the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation, one of a half-dozen disease and patient advocacy organizations that have joined the coalition.
Also joining the yet-to-be-named group are 15
prominent researchers, scientists and doctors affiliated with some of the
region's top research institutions. They
include Leroy Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, and Lee
Hartwell, president and director of the
The group also includes researchers and doctors at
Schual-Berke said she encouraged supporters to form a coalition before the session as a show of support for stem-cell policy. The advance planning also, she said, could help educate the public and lawmakers on some of the emotionally charged issues surrounding stem-cell research. These issues include human cloning and therapeutic cloning.
Next year's proposed law, as did this year's, would prohibit human cloning. But it would make exceptions for therapeutic cloning, which is the growing of cells or human tissue and does not involve reproduction.
Last session's proposed legislation would have included about $300,000 in state funding. It would have directed the state Department of Health to set up guidelines for human embryonic stem-cell research. And supporters said it would have paved the way for more research and would have created more lucrative opportunities for the region's biotech businesses.
That bill, also co-sponsored by Schual-Berke, fizzled as the Legislature struggled with shortfalls in state funding overall. It also drew opposition from conservative lawmakers and religious leaders, such as Sister Sharon Park of the Washington State Catholic Conference, who argued that embryonic stem-cell research was unethical because it destroyed one-celled human embryos.
Schual-Berke says next year's bill will be similar to last session's stem-cell legislation. She said that the issue has benefited from a year's worth of national debate centered around the presidential election, which brought out Republicans such as Nancy Reagan, and Sens. Orrin Hatch and John McCain, in favor of the research.
President Bush has limited new federal funding to adult
stem-cell, placenta and umbilical cord research. Bush has restricted using
federal funding on embryonic cell research to only the 78 lines that currently
exist. His policy does not apply to privately funded research. But some
researchers and lawmakers say Bush's stance threatens to have a chilling effect
While researchers have hailed the potential
medical advances from stem-cell research, the controversy has made it difficult
for companies and institutions to attract private investment funds. It was
partly the federal policy, in fact, that prompted
In the state Legislature in
Still, the legislation faces political pitfalls, including a difference between Dino Rossi and Christine Gregoire, who are still awaiting ballot counts and legal challenges that have yet to determine who will be the next governor. Gregoire backs embryonic stem-cell research. Rossi supports adult stem-cell research, but has said he has reservations about embryonic research. However, Rossi has said he would not block private companies from conducting the research.
Contact: email@example.com • 206-447-8505x158
Varner column in
Friday, October 01, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
/ Times editorial columnist
With the right leadership, state can be a biotech hub
Scientists specializing in human embryonic stem-cell research must be getting chafe burns from constantly bumping up against Bush administration restrictions.
During a fellowship last
candidate Dino Rossi doesn't appear to possess the imagination or vision to
seriously address this question. At a recent gubernatorial debate, Rossi
countered talk of state-funded stem-cell research by saying this type of
science is already legal in
Human stem-cell research using private money faces no
hamstringing federally funded research discourages laboratories, particularly
at institutions dependent on federal money such as the
Irv Weissman, director of Stanford's Institute for Cancer and Stem Cell Biology, says the limitations on federal funding are chilling to post-doctoral students eyeing stem-cell research as a career.
Rather than say outright
whether he opposes embryonic stem-cell research, Rossi delves into supposed
"Anyone who makes
excuses and says we're too small and can't compete, they're going to think
small and not compete," says
OK, Rossi supporters complain, the stem-cell debate is a wedge issue conjured up by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire. Wrong. Embryonic stem-cell research became a wedge issue when it was erroneously linked with abortion. The results are federal restrictions and threats of further encroachments upon science by politics.
This is just the beginning as regions vie for domination in biotech and biomedicine. There is plenty of room for innovative forward-thinkers. The National Institutes of Health spent just $25 million — out of a $2 billion budget — on studies involving embryonic stem cells.
Scientists are a pragmatic
lot. They aren't likely to picket for public investment in stem-cell research.
But that doesn't mean they wouldn't gravitate toward it if encouraged. We
shouldn't create a brain drain, either to the world leaders in stem-cell
research such as
Like any emerging
innovation, embryonic stem-cell research will create jobs and economic
opportunity. If the
Critics will slap me out of my reverie to point out that there are equally pressing needs for biotech. For instance, how about the state doing more to assist the commercialization of technology? Or provide incentives to attract biotech companies from other states and keep the ones we have?
Fair questions. Some of that is already going on. On
Guided by the right
We could spend less than
Lynne K. Varner's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Nature of the Embryo by D. McManaman
Homily mentioning Dr. Hood
Good Friday Service for Life vs. Dr. Leroy Hood's Support of Cloning & Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Letter to Dr. Leroy Hood
From Bishop Wuerl:
While stem cell research may not be at the top of the list of concerns that many of us face in our day-to-day life, it is nonetheless of such significance that we all need to understand fully its realities as well as its consequences. Decisions made now could establish a principle that asserts and endorses that we are free to use the drastic means of taking another human life, if we deem that the end result justifies that dire action. To concede that the end – even if it is potential relief to long-standing illnesses and injuries – justifies the means is to send our children and grandchildren headlong down a slippery slope on a moral toboggan with neither a steering bar or brakes.
And from Peter Singer (a Yale professor who wants to lead us further down the slippery slope):
The dispute is no longer about whether it is justifiable to end an infant's life if it won't be worth living but whether that end may be brought about by active means, or only by the withdrawal of treatment.