U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1) today marked the introduction of the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2011 with a visit to the world-renowned Craig Hospital, where she toured the Top Ten rehabilitation facility and met with hospital leadership, staff, and their patients. DeGette spoke of the tremendous potential of ethical embryonic stem cell research to the health of patients like those at Craig, as well as to the economic strength of our nation.
"Science is indeed back in America, and with this legislation, the power of American innovation and the great promise of stem cell research may one day offer the patients of Craig an entirely new outlook on the future," DeGette said. "My legislation would put into statute a framework for ethical embryonic stem cell research that would ensure this critical life-saving research could be conducted unimpeded by political interference, enabling the promise of treatments and even cures to become a reality. And as America works to get back on its feet economically, the potential of stem cell research can also move beyond the miraculous health discoveries that await us, to one day drive an entire new segment of biomedical industry."
DeGette was joined by Craig Hospital President and CEO, Mike Fordyce, and Chris Chappell, a graduate and employee of Craig, who is a quadriplegic as a result of a mountain bike accident 11 years ago.
"Craig Hospital is pleased to host this press conference today to announce this proposed legislation," says Mike Fordyce, President and CEO of Craig. "For more than fifty years Craig has been a premier national leader in the rehabilitation and research of patients with catastrophic neuro-traumatic injuries, including more than a decade of collaborative stem cell research with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. We are hopeful that this legislation will further advance scientific research in restorative treatments, for patients who are affected by catastrophic injuries."
Chris Chappell said, "I am in favor of legislation supporting scientific research that benefits the greater good of humanity. I believe that a balanced, in-depth and judicious study of the potential applicable benefits of stem-cell research is needed and will help to achieve tremendous medical breakthroughs for a myriad of health related challenges, spinal-cord injuries notwithstanding, currently effecting millions of Americans."
DeGette's Stem Cell Research Advancement Act, introduced on a bipartisan basis with Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), would support embryonic stem cell research, and codify the NIH's guidelines for carrying out all human stem cell research, embryonic and adult. It also requires NIH to review its guidelines at least every three years and make periodic updates as scientifically warranted. The ethical requirements defined by the bill mandates that stem cells be derived from human embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics that were created for reproductive purposes, but are in excess of clinical needs. The donated embryos would never be implanted in a woman, and would otherwise be discarded. The individuals who had sought reproductive treatment to begin with, must donate the embryos with written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements. The legislation also specifically prohibits the use of federal funding for human cloning under the NIH guidelines.
Craig Hospital is a non-profit, national rehabilitation hospital and research center that specializes exclusively in treatment and research of patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Craig treats patients from all fifty states and several foreign countries and in 2010 was ranked in the Top Ten Rehab Hospitals by US News and World Report for the 21st consecutive year.