New York joined the highly charged debate over embryonic stem cell research when Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver introduced a bill establishing a New York State Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine. Republican Sen. Nicholas Spano said he will introduce a Senate version that will support and fund regenerative research. California and New Jersey have passed such legislation and now are recruiting and attracting noted scientists and biotech companies, and benefiting economically.
In 2001, President Bush limited federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to pre-existing cell lines. Of the 78 promised lines, less than 20 proved to be available to scientists. All are contaminated by mouse cells and cannot be used to treat humans. Progress is threatened.
Most of us know someone whose life has been shortened or diminished by Parkinson's, cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injury or other devastating diseases. There is real hope that embryonic stem cell research will lead to cures. New York should be among the leaders in this life-affirming research.