Skip to content. Skip to departments. Skip to most popular. Skip to footer.

UCLA

"Do you believe public funds should be used to support stem cell research?

Print
Comments

Published Jan 1, 2006 12:00 AM


Proposition 71, which provides public funds to underwrite the costs of stem cell research, passed in California in November 2004, and UCLA is playing a leading role in the development of stem cell science. We asked four UCLA experts for their views

Owen Witte: "It is the government's responsibility to do everything possible"

Edwin Bayrd: "This country has a long tradition of funding scientific research with public funds, so there is nothing novel in using tax dollars to support [stem cell research]."

Stephen Bainbridge: "If you believe that human life begins at conception, as I do, creating human lives for the purpose of destroying them is an intrinsically evil act."

Mark Grady: "Probably many people would want to clone themselves if the technology were available."

Director of the UCLA Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine

Witte's faculty web page

Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine

Owen Witte, UCLA Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine

“The study of embryonic and adult stem cells is expected to yield valuable clues about the biology of a number of diseases that plague humanity. More importantly, stem cell research may result in new and better ways to treat cancers, neurological disorders, HIV/AIDS and metabolic disorders such as diabetes - diseases that impact tens of millions of Americans. I believe it is the government’s responsibility to do everything possible to deepen our understanding of the possibilities related to stem cell science.”

Associate director of the UCLA AIDS Institute

UCLA AIDS Institute

Edwin Bayrd, UCLA AIDS Institute

“This is a question that the public itself has answered, and answered emphatically, when an overwhelming plurality of California voters endorsed Proposition 71. This country has a long tradition of funding scientific research with public funds, so there is nothing novel in using tax dollars to support research in the rapidly evolving and hugely promising field of stem cell research.

“Only public funding - at a significant level - will ensure that predictable, reliable and adequate funding is available to researchers, at UCLA and elsewhere, who are engaged in this vital work -and allow that work to continue unimpeded and uninterrupted. This is especially important to members of the UCLA AIDS Institute, who are conducting a clinical trial of an experimental, stem cell-based gene therapy treatment for HIV at this moment. For the AIDS Institute, the future is now - and public funding of stem cell research is essential to the process of developing less toxic, more effective treatments for the plague of our time.”

Stephen Bainbridge, UCLA School of Law

“A key problem with this debate it that you have attractive and sympathetic spokespeople like [stem cell activist and UCLA grad student Candace] Coffee, whose stories play on our emotions. But who speaks for the unborn child? We only get one side of the story. The Catholic Church, of course, claims to speak for the fetus: ‘All human beings, from their mothers’ womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered and whose vocation is even now written in the “book of life”’ (compare Psalms 139:1, 13-16) - Evangelium Vitae, 61.

“If you believe that human life begins at conception, as I do, creating human lives for the purpose of destroying them is an intrinsically evil act (as California’s Catholic bishops have made clear). Even if you believe human life begins sometime later than conception, however, you should still oppose Proposition 71. Stem cell research advocate Francis Fukuyama blasted Proposition 71 as ‘a huge, self-dealing giveaway of money from cash-strapped California taxpayers to a small group of institutions and companies that will remain largely unaccountable.’ California’s taxes are already among the highest in the country. Why then should California taxpayers who are opposed to the intentional destruction of human embryos in the name of scientific research be forced to subsidize venture capitalists, biotech companies and research institutions that already receive vast state and federal handouts?”

Professor of law and director of the Center for Law and Economics at the UCLA School of Law

Grady's faculty web page

Mark Grady, UCLA School of Law

“The theory of evolution predicts that … humans and other animals have a strong biological incentive to clone themselves. That way they get all of their genes down to the next generation, not just half. In fact, one biological theory says that the effective limit on natural cloning, which does exist among some species, is the increased vulnerability of offspring to disease. This risk might not be great after one or two generations, the relevant time frame for an individual human’s decision to clone.

“Probably many people would want to clone themselves if the technology were freely available. Even today some people are freezing genetic material from favorite dogs. Maybe a way to think about stem cell research would be to examine more carefully our objections to human cloning and then to think about how any particular program of stem cell research would or would not be covered by these objections.”

Comments