Come Friday, some researchers might take issue with Nebraska's cheerful welcome sign. The New York Times reported today that the University of Nebraska is considering severely restricting embryonic stem cell research by its faculty members. Under the potential new guidelines, researchers would only be allowed to work with the 21 human embryonic stem cell lines previously approved by President George W. Bush in August of 2001. The matter is to be discussed by the university's board of regents tomorrow, Nov. 20. If the restrictions are approved, the university would be the first in the country to take such a step. According to the article, the university's president and the chancellor of its medical center support human embryonic stem cell research. But unlike most public universities, the eight voting members of U of N's board of regents are elected, rather than appointed. And many observers believe that they may have secured the necessary 5-3 majority with the election of a new regent at the end of last year.
“It would taint this university for a long time,” said Dr. Harold M. Maurer, chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, which conducts stem cell research.
Because of the uncertainty over Friday’s vote, Dr. Maurer said, the medical center has postponed efforts to compete for billions of dollars in federal stimulus money for future studies and efforts to attract a new leader of the center’s regenerative medicine program have been slowed. “They won’t come unless we have approval to do stem cell research,” he said.
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