Syte Reitz

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world…….

Browsing Posts tagged Stem cell research

. news (Wisconsin State Journal/Cap Times) is a frequent source of inspiration for this blog.  🙂

Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery

Most recently, the Cap Times published an article on the grand opening of the new 205 million dollar Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery research building at UW Madison, which was formally opened yesterday, Dec 2, 2010.

The purpose of the new research building and the ethical concerns raised by peaceful protesters outside took a back seat to the coverage of a union labor dispute over food workers to be employed in the new building.  The union dispute dominated the grand opening, dominated the Cap Times article and dominated the ensuing online discussion.

It is odd the Cap Times article and discussion should consider a restaurant labor dispute to be of higher importance than the PURPOSE of the new building which was the subject of the grand opening, or more important than the ethical questions raised by the existence of the building and by the peaceful pro-lifers protesting outside.  Granted, the union protesters were unruly and disruptive, but the Cap Times should not have given them the platform they were trying to demand.  The Cap Times should also have devoted more space to the discussion of the real issues, and should have represented both sides of the embryonic stem cell research debate, rather than favoring the morally controversial research.

In actual fact, a major motivation behind building the Institutes for Discovery at

A Person is a Person no Matter How Small

UW Madison was to facilitate embryonic stem cell research by UW scientists, at a time when federal funding of embryonic stem cell research was forbidden due to moral concerns.  The majority of Americans still now oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, and numerous moral authorities continue to oppose this research.  EMBRYONIC stem cell research is to be distinguished from ADULT stem research, which is morally acceptable (see Stem Cells).

The Institutes of Discovery plan was to erect a building in which one half was devoted to faculty doing research permitted by the U.S. government, while the other half of the building was devoted to doing private research, for which government approval was withheld.  Thus, scientists doing controversial research could comfortably move back and forth within the building, continuing the controversial research without losing their federal funding for other research projects.

Human stem cells

Basically, the Institutes for Discovery created a loophole to allow forbidden research to be carried out on the UW campus.

Now that President Obama has permitted federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, the Institutes for Discovery is actually an expensive and unnecessary embarrassment.  The building may come in handy if the next administration again forbids federal funding of embryonic stem cell research; however, the next administration might be too smart to fall for this evasion, so that will not be certain.

The fact that this amount of money could be spent in an effort to evade federal regulations, while staff salaries are being cut by UW Madison and employees are required to take “furlough” due to the economy, is disappointing and shocking.  The initial idea was equally shocking – that UW would insist on carrying out research that was morally opposed by more than half of America (57%), and was forbidden on federally funded grants.

Such irresponsible spending and disregard for the ethical concerns  of most Americans is just as suicidal in a University as it it in a nation.  UW is making some pretty big mistakes.  We need a more fiscally and morally responsible administration.

Stem Cells


Stem Cell Research

The Wisconsin State Journal published an article on stem cell research and the Wisconsin Governor’s race .

The controversy boils down to the difference between two types of stem cells – embryonic and adult – and the science can get tedious to follow.

It’s actually not too complicated…….

Mouse embryonic stem cells with fluorescent marker

  • Adult stem cell research (cells taken from adults, approved by the Church) has yielded hundreds of cures to date.
  • Embryonic stem cell research (cells taken from embryos, killing them, forbidden by the Church) has yielded ZERO cures to date.

The superiority of  adult cell research has been recognized widely — Adult Stem Cell Research is Far Ahead Of Embryonic – Aug 2, 2010, USA Today, ABC News, FOX News, Huffington Post,, NY Times ……..)

Yet UW scientists (and WSJ reporters) misrepresent the science to support their own research.   They state that embryonic cells are more valuable in research than adult cells, despite the fact that embryonic cells have produced zero cures during 20 years of research.

In online discussion following the article, some readers jump to ridicule those who have religious objections to the morality of killing embryos ( for fruitless research, incidentally).

St. Peter's

As a Ph.D. biochemist who has done research on the regulation of cellular proliferation at Princeton University, I have no difficulty whatsoever in reconciling religion with science.  Good religion welcomes science.  Good science is compatible with religion.  God is not opposed to science, He invented it.  It is when humans try to manipulate science for politics that a discontinuity occurs.

Scientists rarely have consensus on any issue – scientists are not perfect.  They make mistakes,  bad assumptions, they do poor controls; some even misrepresent their results intentionally for advancement/recognition.  Some scientists even cross moral lines when it comes to experimenting on human beings.

This is where the Church (moral expert) comes in. Dismissing the guidance of moral experts on experimentation with human life is as foolish as dismissing scientific rules for good experimental design.


The scientists who believe that they can violate ancient rules of morality to satisfy their scientific curiosity are recklessly violating ancient teachings which have been the foundation of our culture and of our medical ethics for millennia. These religious and medical teachings include Judeo-Christian and ancient Greek  medical teaching (Hippocrates).  The teachings are common-sense, logical, and designed (primarily by a mind greater than ours) for our welfare and protection.

Checking with the Church (moral expert) on the moral limits of experimentation with human life is as essential as checking experimental design for good controls!

Why is anyone surprised that the route forbidden by ancient morality, which involves the destruction of human life,  has yielded no good scientific fruits to date?

To summarize the politics:

  • Scientists are split on the issue of embryonic vs. adult stem cell research, so pitting science against Church in this issue is unfounded.
  • The adult cell research (with hundreds of cures) is supported by Republicans Scott Walker for Governor and Ron Johnson for Senate.
  • The embryonic cell research (with zero cures) is supported by Democrats Tom Barrett for Governor and Russ Feingold for Senate.
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