Stem cell lab still empty

Scientists struggle to jump legal, bureaucratic hurdles to research

By Arikia Millikan, Daily Staff Reporter

To create a discrete room in the Life Sciences Building, over a dozen benefactors contributed more than $2.5 million to the University's Center for Stem Cell Biology.

In theory, this privately funded room would allow researchers to develop new treatments and cures using human embryonic stem cells otherwise restricted by laws that restrict the use of federal funding for the research.

In practice, numerous practical, bureaucratic and legal obstacles have prevented University scientists from beginning their research.

"The room is fully equipped and ready to go," said Sean Morrison, the center's director.

But on the other side of the laboratory door? - protected by a lock programmed to deny access to anyone with a federally-funded salary - the room's two incubators have yet to house a single stem cell.


Since August of 2001, when President Bush restricted the use of federal funds to research stem cell lines derived before his address, researchers have struggled to obtain lines for research. Of the 60 lines registered with the National Institutes of Health, many were later found to be either incapable of growth or contaminated with animal proteins. Today only 16 are uncontaminated and viable for research and treatment.