A US$1.25 billion spending package has been unveiled to make Massachusetts a major centre for embryonic stem cell research. in Boston that the funds would be used for grants for university and hospital scientists, special research centres, training biotech workers and so on. He also plans to create a stem cell bank for Massachusetts stem cell lines which could be used by scientists around the world.
In many ways the health of this industry and the health of our society are very closely linked," Mr Patrick said. "That’s why we will not rest on our laurels." The huge amount will be made up of $1 billion in state money over 10 years, some borrowed through bond issues, plus $250 million in matching funds from private investors.
Despite the moral controversies hovering over embryonic stem cell research, several states are digging deep to support it. California has a $3 billion program, although at the moment it is mired in lawsuits. New Jersey has proposed $270 million; and New York has proposed $1 billion. Since the Bush Administration has restricted funding for embryonic stem cell research on ethical grounds, the states have decided to make their own run.
Ethical conundrums are largely being ignored in the rush to kick therapeutic goals. Massachusetts politicians, investors and scientists see stem cell research not just as potential therapies, but as a matter of regional pride. In the past, when scientists came to the state, says Dr Jack M. Wilson, president of the University of Massachusetts, the site of the new stem cell bank, "it felt like joining a team of great players, but there was no coach and no strategy. And those teams always lose,"
And the owner of the New England Patriots football team, Jonathan Kraft, has pledged to support local biotech. He didn’t want to see a repeat of California’s show-stealing success in computer technology. We’re not going to let these other places pull our researchers out of here; we’re going to get more aggressive," he says.
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