Lines of Communication: Advances in Stem Cell Policy

Article excerpt

MR. STEIGER:

Now I think we're going to be introducing our speakers, Professors Davis and Grega. As a bioethicist and legal scholar, Professor Dena Davis has been the recipient of prestigious grants, fellowships and visiting scholar appointments. She has published over 50 articles in the area of law and medicine--from cloning to genetic engineering--and has lectured and taught at universities and biomedical research institutions around the globe. She is the author, most recently, of Genetic Dilemmas: Reproductive Technology, Parental Choices and Children's Futures.

Dr. Davis holds an adjunct appointment at Case Western Reserve University's Department of Biomedical Ethics, and is a faculty associate in CWRU's Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law. She is a recent appointee to the National Institutes of Health Committee that will determine how the NIH supports stem cell research.

I have the personal pleasure of having her for a class this semester, and I will say that anybody who has the opportunity next semester, or at some point in the future, should do so.

MS. BAKER:

Good evening and thank you again for coming. I'd like to introduce our other speaker, Dr. Grega.

Dr. Grega was named CSCRM [Center for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine] Executive Director in 2004. She has had a distinguished career in biomedical research, biotechnology business development, program management, e-commerce and global marketing. CSCRM is a multi-institutional center composed of investigators from Northeast Ohio's major medical and biomedical research centers, including University Hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic and Athersys, Inc. The Center provides a comprehensive and coordinated bench to bedside approach to regenerative medicine, including basic and clinical research programs, biomedical and tissue engineering programs, and the development and administration of new therapies to patients.

MR. STEIGER:

Without further adieu: Dr. Debra Grega.

DR. GREGA:

Thank you very much. I want to thank the organizers for the invitation and the opportunity to meet with this group and provide some information on the issue of stem cells and our stem cell policy. I'm going to give a bit of an overview on the main technical issues of stem cell work because without that it's hard to frame the main concepts for regulatory, legal, and ethical issues for the research.

So, stem cell therapeutics has really captured the imagination of the public, in addition to the biomedical community, because we have this opportunity for really replacing damaged tissue as opposed to just essentially putting a Band-Aid on damage and disease; and, as I point out here, it can be with undifferentiated cells all the way to engineered-type cells. So, today, as I said, I'm going to give a bit of an overview on stem cells, and then the impact on the science of therapeutics.

[I'd like to give] a very brief plug in terms of organizations that we have here in Ohio. The NCRM, which is the National Center for Regenerative Medicine, (2) is made up of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (3) and the Clinical Tissue Engineering Center; (4) those two are funded by the State of Ohio Third Frontier Program, (5) and have those funds really in terms of late-stage research development leading into clinical and commercial outputs. So, we've been quite fortunate in that respect.

The other member of the NCRM is the Cleveland Cord Blood Center; (6) it was recently established in 2007 and provides a public bank for cord blood collection for a nationwide network. We also participate in the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine, (7) and that is a national consortium of institutions bringing innovative regenerative medicine technology therapies for use with returning military from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. And so, I just point this out in terms of local resource. …