Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I rise today to declare my support for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2009. I intend to cast this vote in honor of the efforts of Dr. Xiangzhong ``Jerry'' Yang, a pioneer in cloning and stem cell research, who died of cancer three weeks ago at the age of 49. Dr. Yang left a great legacy of hard work, dedication, and success on the front lines of stem cell research. His work has led to a series of breakthroughs that have taken us closer to the dream of cloning stem cells to match an individual and cure the individual's disease, a breakthrough that would bring hope to countless men, women, and children who are suffering from otherwise untreatable illnesses.
The Yang laboratory, stationed at the University of Connecticut, is the world's leading laboratory in animal cloning and stem cell technology. Dr. Yang and his team provided critical insights into the previously mysterious mechanisms of how germ cells are programmed to form embryos, and how these embryos form distinct types of tissue. He was instrumental in working with then-Connecticut State Senator CHRIS MURPHY (now my colleague Representative MURPHY) to establish the Connecticut State Stem Cell Research Program, one of the very few such programs in the Nation. Because of the program's existence, Connecticut was one of the few states that would fund human embryonic stem cell research that could not be funded by the Federal Government. Just this year, the University of Connecticut announced the derivation of two new human embryonic stem cell lines as a result of these research funds. This breakthrough, along with many others, would not have happened without Jerry's influence and guidance.
Dr. Yang's ultimate dream to tailor stem cell cloning to specific people, organs, and diseases has not yet been realized, but with the help of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, we may yet reach the world he envisioned: One in which organ damage from cancer, heart attacks, spinal disorders, or any other conceivable illness can be reversed with stem cell therapy. I ask that my distinguished colleagues join me in applauding the work of Dr. Yang: he will be sorely missed, but the important work he has done deserves all the recognition and support this body can offer.