by: Dr. Andrew J. Rochman
Stem cell research is a groundbreaking area that promises cure for many fatal and degenerative diseases. The prospect of curing some of the deadliest diseases modern medicine has ever encountered has allured the most brilliant minds in biosciences today and they are struggling to produce breakthrough results. However, the path to a cure is fraught with many challenges that must be faced before researchers can be successful, and funding a stem cell research project is one of them.
Stem cell research has always been an area of controversy since it used to require the destruction of live embryos that have the potential to become a fully grown human being one day. Among the American public there are some strong opponents of the view that embryonic stem cell research should be abandoned for adult stem cell research. This is because the area of adult stem cell research seems more promising in terms of discovering a cure than embryonic stem cell research and does not involve the destruction of embryos (LifeNews.com, 2014).
Where Does The Funding Come From?
In a poll conducted by an agency in 2010 to know the public’s opinion on government funding for stem cell research only 33% of people said that they support the government funding of stem cell research, and about 57% vehemently opposed the idea. However, the number of people supporting stem cell research funding seems to increase as there are more breakthroughs in this area (The Daily Caller, 2014).
One of the main organizations funding stem cell research is the National Institute of Health (NIH) which is a nonprofit organization that provides funds to researchers by establishing public-private partnerships. NIH has encouraged stem cell research by steadily providing more and more funds since 2002, but now, the competition for federal funding is very high and researchers are under immense pressure from the public as well politicians to deliver a cure (Journals.lww.com, 2014).
The funding also varies from state to state. California, New York and New Jersey, in particular, have taken an active interest in stem cell research and have passed legislation permitting it. California has particularly allowed research and cloning of embryos. In 2004, the state of California approved $3 billion grant to be spent on stem cell research(Genomenewsnetwork.org, 2014).
New York has also provided strong support to stem cell research. In 2012, the funding budget for stem cell research was $600 million, which was later reduced to $550 million due to financial constraints. However, the overall funding outlook remains strong and is the main attraction for researchers across the country (Genomenewsnetwork.org, 2014).
New Jersey has been at the forefront of medical technology and innovation and also provides strong for stem cell research. It was the second state after California to approve and pass legislation related to the use of human embryos, germ lines and adult human stem cells for stem cell research.
It is clear that stem cell science remains an actively funded research area which is supported by governments and private organizations as well. However, the results of this initiative remain to be seen as scientists race towards their goal of advancing modern medicine.
Genomenewsnetwork.org, (2014). GNN – Deprecated: Function ereg_replace() is deprecated in /opt/www/gnn/htdocs/gnn_include/php/articlelayout.php on line 142Stem Cells: Policies and Players. [online] Available at: http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/resources/policiesandplayers/ [Accessed 19 May. 2014].
Journals.lww.com, (2014). Where the Stem Cell Research Funding Is — State or Federal?… : Neurology Today. [online] Available at: http://journals.lww.com/neurotodayonline/Fulltext/2012/09060/Where_the_Stem_Cell_Research_Funding_Is___State_or.3.aspx [Accessed 19 May. 2014].
LifeNews.com, (2014). Adult Stem Cell Research Has Defeated Embryonic Stem Cells for Funding Priorities. [online] Available at: http://www.lifenews.com/2013/10/31/adult-stem-cell-research-has-defeated-embryonic-stem-cells-for-funding-priorities/ [Accessed 19 May. 2014].
The Daily Caller, (2014). Americans oppose taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research. [online] Available at: http://dailycaller.com/2010/09/01/americans-oppose-taxpayer-funding-for-embryonic-stem-cell-research/ [Accessed 19 May. 2014].