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UCSF named eligible for stem cell research funding

Bay City News
Tuesday August 28, 2001

The National Institutes of Health announced Monday that the University of California at San Francisco is among 10 organizations worldwide that are eligible to receive federal funds for stem cell research. 

Scientists have been eagerly awaiting the list of selected groups since earlier this month when President George W. Bush announced that the federal government would finance research on the human embryonic stem cell lines, or cultures, already in existence by the Aug. 9 deadline. 

In order to qualify for the funding, the research organizations had to derive stem cells from an embryo that was created for reproductive purposes, but was no longer needed. They also had to receive the donor's consent, but could not pay the donor for the embryo. 

NIH administrators say they are implementing the president's new policy and hope that researchers will take advantage of the opportunity to explore the possibility of producing breakthrough therapies.  

The national organization announced that four U.S. laboratories and six others in Sweden, Australia, India and Israel were able to derive cell cultures from a total of 64 embryos by this month's deadline. The NIH reports that the organizations will make information about the stem cell research available to the scientific community at the discretion of the individual laboratories. 

Of the four American labs selected, two are in California. UCSF has derived two stem cell lines, while CyThera, Inc. in San Diego has created nine lines. 

Supporters of the research say the potential benefits include possible cures for Alzheimer's Disease and spinal cord injuries and argue that throwing away thousands of in vitro embryos is a waste of research material. However, opponents of the research say that destroying embryos to develop a stem cell line is equivalent to the taking of a human life.