In Canada, the creation of new stem cell lines
March 4, 2002 4:18 PM   Subscribe

In Canada, the creation of new stem cell lines from discarded embryos is now eligible for federal funding. And in the UK the first licenses to create new stem cell lines have been granted, as has governement approval to pursue therapeutic cloning. The chief executive of the UK's Medical Research Council predicts a "reverse brain drain" of stem cell scientists to the UK. If the US Senate votes to ban all human cloning this spring, even for research purposes, I suspect that America will lose a lot of great minds.
posted by homunculus (11 comments total)
In terms of private sector research, there probably will be some movement - the multinationals will set up shop in the UK and Canada. But for academic research you shouldn't anticipate much of a brain drain, because US universities will retain the advantage of higher pay, which covers a multitude of sins.
posted by Gaz at 4:43 PM on March 4, 2002

If the U.S. Senate screws this up, then I pray the U.S. loses all of their great researchers to more enlightened countries. I have a 4-year-old daughter with a severe genetic neurological syndrome -- the best hope for a cure is therapeutic cloning (also called Somatic Cell Nuclear Technology). The promise is far greater than conventional stem cell research. To my mind this decision is potentially more important than any other that these politicians will ever face (yes, including the war on terrorism, the federal budget, civil rights, education, etc. etc.)
posted by pardonyou? at 6:47 PM on March 4, 2002

because US universities will retain the advantage of higher pay

yikes! I know what genetics people get paid, and it ain't enough. Sure, the offers sound excellent when compared to the usual "No Stipend, and you pay your own tuition" routine from grad schools. but under 20k/yr won't easily pay all the bills in university towns. And then there's the practical Indentured Servitude to a university lab. Holidays? Not when you've got to check samples every 8 hours for two weeks. And you're telling me it only gets worse outside the US?

But if researchers wanna play with stem cell research and can't/won't hook up with the private sector, you'll see a brain drain all right.
posted by salsamander at 7:00 PM on March 4, 2002

you know, it's funny. i've been wondering how long it would be before the right stuck it's fist down the throat of science, and i was always optimistic that there would be some cool heads in charge that would say yes to the progression of humankind. i can't recall when it was (bioorganic chemist, not historian), but there was a point in history where the church banned any further scientific study. look how well that worked. i guess the thing is that there's only a ban on federal funding, they can't say they've banned it completely, which clears the government of responsibility, or so they've convinced themselves. i'll tell you what, though, i'm sure as hell not staying in the US next year. the academic work i want to do is being done in canada. plus canada is cooler. being further north, you know.
posted by chemicalpilate at 7:31 PM on March 4, 2002

University geneticists get paid under 20k/yr?! That's really depressing.

If a Democrat gets elected President in 2004 I'm sure federal funding will be made available for the creation of new stem cell lines. My understanding is that there's plenty of work to do with the existing lines in the meantime, but not indefinetly. But if the Senate follows the House and bans all cloning, well, that would be a travesty.

Whatever happened to the "ultimate stem cell" anyway?
posted by homunculus at 10:30 PM on March 4, 2002

Pardonyou, I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. I think the Senate is much more open to therapeutic cloning than the House was, I hope they do the right thing. To ban therapeutic cloning while allowing research on embryos doesn't make any moral sense.

Does anyone know what Canada's position on therapeutic cloning is? The article only discussed conventional stem cell research.
posted by homunculus at 11:50 PM on March 4, 2002

Based on the radio report last night, the board won't allow research that leads directly to human cloning.
posted by mikel at 7:35 AM on March 5, 2002

Won't allow publicly-funded research into cloning. Private research is still free to do so.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:54 AM on March 5, 2002

Hey, homunculus. Thanks for the kind words. You'll probably never see this because it's pretty much a dead post, so I tried to send you an email but you don't have one in your profile. Anyway, thanks.

By the way, you'll find a lot of information on these topics at
posted by pardonyou? at 5:52 PM on March 5, 2002

fff, so therapeutic cloning would be legal in Canada, just not federally funded? That will be a big difference if the Senate makes it completely illegal here.

pardon, thanks for the link, I've got to do my profile.

Apparently there's an idiotic ad campaign decrying the coming "human embryo farms" in order to influence the Senate's vote. This is pathetic.

Dead post? But it hasn't been three days yet!
posted by homunculus at 11:03 PM on March 5, 2002

Meanwhile, China stem-cell research leaps ahead.
posted by homunculus at 5:08 PM on March 6, 2002

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