Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Statement responding to Michigan Senate approval of stem cell research restrictions

The following statement was issued by Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, in response to Wednesday’s Michigan Senate vote approving a package of bills that would further restrict embryonic stem cell research in the state:

The University of Michigan is deeply disappointed by today’s Senate vote approving a package of bills that would create unnecessary and burdensome regulations governing embryonic stem cell research in the state.

The proposed regulations would undermine the expressed will of Michigan voters and would discourage our scientists from pursuing research that promises to improve the treatment of deadly diseases. For these reasons, we remain opposed to the bills, though we appreciate the fact that a number of our suggested modifications have been incorporated into them.

In 2008, Michigan voters approved a state constitutional amendment that lifted onerous restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. The amendment prohibited the passage of state laws that “prevent, restrict, obstruct or discourage” stem cell research in the state — which is exactly what this package of bills would do, if enacted.

Embryonic stem cell research is already one of the most highly regulated areas of U.S. biomedical science. After the state constitutional amendment was approved in November 2008, it took the University of Michigan more than a year to establish a framework for the conduct of embryonic stem cell research that meets the requirements of the new state law and all other applicable laws, regulations and guidelines.

The new reporting requirements included in these bills would do nothing to advance public health and would create a disruptive work environment for those engaged in this research.

The University of Michigan’s expertise in stem cell research is gaining attention across the country and the world. This research must be allowed to proceed without the needless restrictions these bills would impose, so that patients in Michigan and around the world can begin to reap the benefits.