UCSB stem cell researchers were thrilled Monday morning after President Barack Obama declared that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is once again legal.
“President Obama’s action is uplifting and exciting not only for stem cell researchers, but also for patients who suffer from incurable diseases,” said Dennis Clegg, chair of UCSB’s Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. “Finally, ‘science’ is not a dirty word in the White House.”
With the ban lifted, UCSB is in a unique position to contribute to the worldwide scientific community thanks to healthy donations by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which has given upward of $8 million in grants to the school over the last four years.
And the researchers plan to use the money well. The school’s Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering has nearly completed a new state-of-the-art stem cell research facility. And, with their amazing new enabling technologies in nanotechnology, biomaterials, systems biology, micro processing, and bioengineering, UCSB scientists are prepared to approach stem cell research in a way that California medical schools will not – by emphasizing, from a stem cell research standpoint, essential baseline biological questions and engineering challenges.
Since President Bush’s 2001 ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research beyond the already derived cell lines – ones created through cloning and believed to aid in therapy – scientists have not been given the necessary funding for new embryonic research. Obama’s speech Monday morning announced the lifting of the ban. “Today,” said Obama, “we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers, doctors and innovators, patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: We will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research.”
Congressmember Lois Capps was similarly elated about the news, according to a written statement she sent out on the matter on Monday. “This is yet another positive step forward for our country as we utilize science and innovation to tackle our most pressing needs and challenges,” Capps said.