Spitzer ally promotes stem cell plan
By Lauren Stanforth, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April 25, 2006
(April 25, 2006) - David A. Paterson, the New York state Senate Democratic leader and a candidate for lieutenant governor, visited the University of Rochester Medical Center on Monday to promote his and gubernatorial running mate Eliot Spitzer's proposal to spend $1 billion on stem cell research.
Spitzer and Paterson are making stem cell research - particularly research using embryos - an issue in the race for governor. Spitzer announced in mid-April that, if elected, he and Paterson would push for a referendum so the public can vote on a $1 billion plan to fund all kinds of stem cell research over 10 years.
Working with stem cells, the building blocks of the body's tissues and organs, is what many scientists believe might one day lead to cures for cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. But the use of embryos for stem cells has drawn criticism, particularly from religious groups.
There already is a proposal before the state Legislature to give $300 million to stem cell research over two years. But the Assembly-approved bill has apparently stalled in the Senate.
Paterson used the same argument Monday that many medical and research institutions have used when lobbying state senators -the economic boom they think stem cell research discoveries will bring to New York.
At a time when upstate New York has lost manufacturing jobs, Paterson said, "this is the right way we should be going." Paterson, who spoke to a small group of UR staff and students, was invited to UR by two medical student groups.
Some states, such as California, Connecticut and New Jersey, have already approved funding for stem cell research - a response to a 2001 ban by the federal government on funding new lines of embryonic stem cell research.
Some scientists say that while they already work with adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells have the ability to grow into any cell and replicate more quickly. Other groups, such as the New York Catholic Conference, have opposed embryonic research for moral and spiritual reasons.
"It's a great delight that this is finally, finally going to be an issue" in a New York state political campaign, said UR stem cell researcher Mark Noble.
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