Stem Cell Funding Plans

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Science  14 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5844, pp. 1483c
DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5844.1483c

German scientists hoping for a relaxation of the strict laws governing human embryonic stem (ES) cells won't be getting any help from education and research minister Annette Schavan. This fall, the German parliament is expected to debate the country's current stem cell regulations, which make it a crime to work with human ES cells derived after 1 January 2002. This week, Schavan said she would not support lifting the cutoff date, although she did not rule out shifting it to allow work with more recently derived cells. At the same time, Schavan announced $6.85 million in new funding for research into methods that would produce pluripotent cells—cells that can become nearly all the body's cell types—without using human embryos. She says her goal is to make ES cells “superfluous.”

As Germany continues to tread cautiously, California is speeding toward its goal of becoming the world's stem cell mecca. On 10 September, the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation announced a $20 million donation to the University of California, Los Angeles, for faculty development, equipment, and facilities at its stem cell institute, now renamed after the donors. Last year, the foundation gave $25 million to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for the same purpose.

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