Unintended Consequences: Culture Wars Drove State Stem Cell Research Funding

Research lab with test tubes
Friday, November 6, 2015

When President George W. Bush restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001, he wasn't looking to expand state funding of this research, but that's exactly what happened. An article in Kaiser Health News recounts how, after the ban, several states started their own stem cell programs or offered economic incentives to local scientists and companies. While these efforts haven't yet produced any miracle cures because of the amount of research still to be done, Jakub Tolar, director of Consortium member the Minnesota Stem Cell Institute, notes that potential results are worth the wait. “We started on drugs a hundred years ago. Then we went to monoclonal antibodies – biologicals,” he said. “We are now getting ready to use cells as a third way of doing medicine. We are at a historical sweet spot.” The U's Stem Cell Institute was established in 1999, before the ban on research with embryonic cells, and is the world's first interdisciplinary institute dedicated to stem cell research.