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Federal funding for stem cells means new jobs for Michigan

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm - March 10, 2009

President Barack Obama's executive order restoring federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, coupled with voter approval of Proposal 2 last November, which legalized embryonic stem cell research in Michigan, means that new jobs can come to the state as the research gets under way.

The University of Michigan has already formed an embryonic stem cell research consortium, with other studies being undertaken at Wayne State University. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been allocated $10.4 billion under the stimulus program, with much of it likely to go to embryonic stem cell research. Supporters of Proposal 2 have estimated that embryonic stem cell research could create at least 8,000 jobs in a state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate.

Embryonic stem cells, which come from donated leftover embryos at fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded, are capable of great modification, and may be able to replace damaged, diseased or destroyed cells of all kinds. They have enormous potential for regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and medication testing, possibly to leading to new treatments and cures for a wide range of devastating diseases and conditions, including multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, stroke and spinal cord injuries.

Obama's executive order reversed former President George W. Bush's 2001 executive order that restricted federal funds to stem cell lines that had already been created. In the intervening eight years, the U.S. has fallen behind the developed world in stem cell research. Obama has also directed that ideology will no longer trump science when it comes to making federal policy.

It is a win-win situation all the way around. Embryonic stem cell research creates new hope for treatments and cures for millions of Americans, while new jobs will come to Michigan's world class scientific research institutions.


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