O'Malley/Brown Announce Plan to Advance Pace of Stem Cell Research in Maryland
Governor Harry R. Hughes says Ehrlich's attempts to take credit "turns stomach"
Earlier this afternoon, Martin O'Malley and Anthony Brown joined with former Governor Harry R. Hughes, John Kellerman of Maryland Families for Stem Cell Research and Delegate Sandy Rosenberg to release a 5-point plan to advance the pace of discovery in stem cell research and increase state funding for stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, to $25 million in fiscal year 2008. Yesterday, George W. Bush vetoed legislation that would have allowed federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
O'Malley and Brown announced the 5-point plan at a press conference following a "kitchen table" talk on stem cell research at the home Marlene and Bob Kuhl. Mr. Kuhl suffers from Parkinson's disease. The "kitchen table" talk was also attended by Bernadine and Alexander Borawick, Governor Hughes, John Kellerman of Maryland Families for Stem Cell Research and Delegate Rosenberg. Mr. Borawick and Mr. Kellerman also suffer from Parkinson's.
"Stem cell research holds the keys to easing the physical and emotional suffering of thousands of Marylanders that are living with debilitating diseases and conditions like Alzheimer's, diabetes, Parkinson's, and spinal cord injuries," said Martin O'Malley. "At the federal level, we've seen nothing but obstinance and at the state level nothing but reticence. Maryland families deserve leaders that will actually lead to unleash the healing power of stem cell research."
During the press conference former Governor Hughes, whose wife suffers from Parkinson's disease, offered pointed criticism of Bob Ehrlich's failure to lead on stem cell research stating, "Watching Bob Ehrlich's commercials where he tries to take credit for stem cell research, turned my stomach." He continued, "Despite the promise of stem cell research, the current governor has played election year politics with this critical issue. Instead of fighting for all families, he tried to placate the narrow special interests that make up his political base."
In his campaign commercials, Bob Ehrlich touts his record on stem cells taking credit for public funding. In fact, members of the Ehrlich administration including two of his cabinet secretaries (including his now Chief of Staff) publicly spoke out against stem cell funding. Indeed, Ehrlich himself supported George W. Bush's position on new embryonic stem cell lines [The Baltimore Sun, "Stem Cell Funding Sought," December 19, 2004]. More information on Bob Ehrlich's record on stem cells is attached.
When he first saw the Ehrlich ads, John Kellerman, a member of the Stem Cell commission and who himself is living with Parkinson's said, "It just doesn't feel right, him trying to take credit."
During the "kitchen table" talk, O'Malley and Brown outlined the components of their plan to advance stem cell research in Maryland, and listened to the concerns of the Kuhl and Borawick families. Mr. Kuhl said he had gone door to door to educate his neighbors about stem cell research.
The O'Malley/Brown plan to advance the pace of stem research in Maryland would:
* Increase the state's stem cell research funding. Martin O'Malley and Anthony Brown will make continued State funding of stem cell research a priority in upcoming budget cycles. While it is unlikely that projects funded from the FY2007 budget will be sufficiently developed for evaluation, an O'Malley-Brown administration will work with the General Assembly to increase funding in the FY2008 budget to $25 million.
* Accelerate implementation of the stem cell research grant funding. The state has delayed discovery too long because of politics. Our families cannot afford to lose any more time to bureaucracy. Martin O' Malley and Anthony Brown call upon the new Commission to quickly adopt rules and regulations for research funding and to set a definitive schedule to rapidly implement the funding of this most important medical research.
* Establish post-doctorate and graduate fellowships at Maryland's leading institutions. The long-term viability and success of Maryland's State-funded stem cell research efforts will be dependent upon attracting the nation's and world's best and brightest researchers to Maryland. Martin O'Malley and Anthony Brown propose setting aside $2 million in matching funds to help post doctorate and graduate fellowships related to stem cell research at Johns Hopkins and the University System of Maryland.
* Increase public awareness about stem cell issues. With the leadership of former governor Harry Hughes, Maryland Families for Stem Cell Research (see www.marylandcures.org for additional information) has played a critical role in advocating for State funding for stem cell research. Marshaling constituencies of citizens suffering from debilitating diseases and injuries as well as leading medical researcher and bio-technology industry leaders, this group has brought the issue of State stem cell research funding to the forefront for Marylanders helping legislative leaders, such as Speaker Busch, Senator Hollinger, Delegates Hammen and Rosenberg, to overcome the resistance of the Ehrlich Administration's and the majority of the Republican legislative caucus.
While the stem cell legislation that passed the 2006 General Assembly session does call for the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission to annually report to the Governor and Legislature on the progress of state-funded research, including the specific identification of grantees, award amounts, and descriptions of the type of stem cell research being conducted, more must be done to educate the public about stem cell research, keep them informed of developments in the field, and report on the tangible progress of State-funded initiatives. In addition to the legislatively mandated reporting to State government, Martin O'Malley and Anthony Brown will call for the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission to hold public educational forums around the state to better inform and educate the public on stem cell research and the progress of State-funded efforts.
* Aggressively Attract Investment to Maryland's Bio-Tech Industry. In addition to the promise of new treatments and cures, stem cell research has the potential to be an engine for economic growth in Maryland spurring the creation of new start-up companies and expanding the state's already burgeoning bio-technology industry.
A 2005 economic impact study by the Sage Policy Group concluded that State funding of stem cell research would minimally produce almost a 2-to-1 return on investment under the strictest assumptions, producing nearly 3,000 jobs and over $150 million in income over the first five years. An O'Malley/Brown Administration will work to aggressively work to attract investment in our biotech industry that will create jobs and save lives.
The full O'Malley/Brown plan to Advance the Pace of Discovery is available at www.martinomalley.com.