The Case for State-Funded
Stem Cell Research
As a society and a
government, we have an obligation to help those among us
who are suffering. If we have an opportunity to save lives,
we must pursue it. Stem cell research is that opportunity.
It is our best hope for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, diabetes and stroke,
and spinal cord and brain injuries. Opponents say stem cell
research takes lives, that any embryo used for stem cell research
would have developed into a person. That is just plain wrong.
These are embryos that if not for stem cell research would
be discarded. Using them to potentially save lives is the morally
correct thing to do. Similar controversy surrounded organ donation.
Today, more than 50 years after the first kidney transplant,
organ donation has saved millions of lives across the globe.
Stem cell research has even greater potential. And New Jersey
is the best place to realize this potential. We are the medicine
cabinet to the nation. We have a biotech cluster that is among
the top five in America. Fifteen of the world’s largest
pharmaceutical companies call New Jersey home. We have more
scientists, engineers and technicians per capita than virtually
any state in the country.
New Jersey is the natural
place for stem cell research, and we must be willing to put
state dollars behind it. A state investment will produce
better health care, enhance our research and development
industry and solidify New Jersey’s place
at the forefront of medical technology.
I have proposed a $380 million investment in stem cell research,
including $150 million for the construction of the New Jersey
Stem Cell Research Institute. We want to attract the best researchers
to New Jersey. We want to build a collaborative environment.
And we want to extend beyond basic research into clinical research
so ultimately our patients receive the most cutting edge treatments
and best possible care.
I also proposed a $230
million ballot initiative for stem cell research grants.
Our goal is to fund to the most promising research based
on the best science. We will make sure the pool of eligible
applicants is broad, from non-profits and universities to
hospitals and the private sector. To ensure research is done
ethically, we will establish an ethics panel to review proposals.
And to make sure science—not politics—governs
the award of grants, an independent panel of scientific experts
will score applications. To ensure citizens of New Jersey benefit
the state will share in five percent of the patent royalties.
There has been a lot of legitimate discussion about whether
now is the time to invest in stem cell research. But science
and the potential benefits of this research, economically and
on a human level cannot be put on hold until New Jersey’s
financial stars align. The more we wait, the more we risk losing
the best researchers to other states. We have a unique chance
to be on the cutting edge of life saving research. We cannot
let it pass us by.#