Free Conference Focuses on Human Stem Cell Research

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March 21, 2002

Contact: Megan Fellman at (847) 491-3115 or at
fellman@northwestern.edu

Free Conference Focuses on Human Stem Cell Research

EVANSTON, ILL.— Human embryonic stem cells can potentially develop into every tissue of the body, but adult stem cells are thought to be less flexible and more focused. Should stem cells of either kind be used in research to improve human health? Who decides? What are the limitations of stem cells? What ethical and legal questions surround stem cell research? Could the use of stem cells make it possible to clone humans?

A distinguished panel of experts will answer these questions in plain English at a public outreach program, “Human Stem Cell Research: Problems and Promise,” Saturday, April 6, at Northwestern University. The program will be from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 1977 South Campus Drive, Evanston.

Ron McKay of the National Institutes of Health, who was instrumental in first coaxing embryonic stem cells into becoming pancreatic islet cells that produce insulin, and former U.S. Rep. John E. Porter will join four others in addressing questions about what human stem cell research involves, how it may be used, and the scientific, ethical, social and legal questions it raises.

The conference is free and open to the public. It is designed to help nonscientists, students and the average citizen understand the importance of human stem cell research and its possible impact on society.

Each speaker will give an individual talk, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Porter. Audience members also will have an opportunity to ask questions during the program.

The speakers and their specific topics follow:

“Politics and Policy in the Stem Cell Debate,” Robin Alta Charo, professor, school of law, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“The Case Against Destroying Human Embryos for Stem Cell Research,” Richard M. Doerflinger, deputy director, secretariat for pro-life activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

“The Clinical Importance of Stem Cells,” Ron McKay, chief, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, National Institutes of Health

“Stem Cell Research and Public Policy,” John E. Porter, partner, Hogan and Hartson; U.S. Congressional representative (Republican – Illinois, 10th district, 1980–2000)

“Alternatives to Embryonic Stem Cells,” David A. Prentice, professor, department of life sciences, Indiana State University

“Duties, Freedoms and Limits: The Ethics of Research in Human Embryonic Stem Cells,” Laurie Zoloth, professor, department of Jewish studies, San Francisco State University

The conference is organized by Northwestern’s department of neurobiology and physiology and sponsored primarily by the Herman and Bea Silverstein Fund for the Center for Genetic Medicine and the Klopsteg Lecture Fund, which was established at Northwestern in 1960 to support programs that promote public understanding of science and technology.

“Human Stem Cell Research: Problems and Promise” follows Northwestern’s successful public outreach program held last year, “The Human Genome Project: Progress, Problems and Prospects.” Information on both programs can be found at http://www.northwestern.edu/science-outreach.

For additional information, call (847) 491-5521.

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