Prominent UCSD, Salk Researchers to Discuss
Politics and Science of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The volatile debate over research with human embryonic stem cells and the politics and science that surrounds it will be discussed by UCSD and Salk Institute researchers at a free lecture for the public Tuesday, March 12, 2002 on the UCSD campus in La Jolla.

Titled "Stem Cell Research: Where Science Meets Politics and Ethics," the lecture is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. in the Price Center Theater on the UCSD campus. For more information about the lecture, call (858) 534-8010.

Stem cells, which can be extracted when embryos are still microscopic clusters of cells, have the potential to grow into any of the body’s hundreds of cell types. Research with stem cells has given scientist the hope that these cells may be useful in repairing or replacing damaged body parts. However, opponents of stem cell research are morally opposed to the creation of human embryos expressly for medical experimentation.

Topics in the March 12 UCSD lecture will include human reproductive and therapeutic cloning, basic terminology used by scientists to describe the processes involved in stem cell research, descriptions of human and mouse embryonic stem cells, cell transplantation therapy for diabetes, and the legal, political and ethical issues surrounding the use of human embryonic stem cells, including the stem-cell research decision by President George W. Bush.

Also discussed will be the January 2002 recommendations of the California Cloning Commission to the Governor and State Legislature.

Speakers include Theodore Friedmann, M.D., professor of pediatrics, Muriel Jeannette Whitehill Chair in Biomedical Ethics and director, UCSD Program in Human Gene Therapy, chair of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health; and a member of the California Cloning Commission; Fred H. Gage, Ph.D., professor, Laboratory of Genetics, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and UCSD professor of neurosciences; Lawrence Goldstein, Ph.D., UCSD professor of cellular and molecular medicine; and Fred Levine, M.D., Ph.D., a medical genetics specialist and UCSD associate professor of pediatrics. The panel moderator is Pamela L. Mellon, Ph.D., director, UCSD Center for the Study of Reproductive Biology and Disease, co-director, UCSD Transgenic Mouse and Embryonic Stem Cell Core, and professor, reproductive medicine and neurosciences.

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Addition information regarding speakers and topics:

Theodore Friedmann, M.D.
Director, UCSD Program in Human Gene Therapy
Muriel Jeannette Whitehill Chair in Biomedical Ethics
UCSD Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Friedmann is chair of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health and a member of the California Cloning Commission, which presented its findings to the Governor and State Legislature in mid January, 2002. He was chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Committee on Germ Line Genetic Modification and a member of the U.S. Congressional Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee. At the UCSD forum, Dr. Friedmann will discuss the recommendations of the California Cloning Commission with respect to human reproductive and “therapeutic” cloning and the lessons learned from the AAAS committee and the Cloning Commission as they relate to stem cell research.

Fred H. Gage, Ph.D.
Professor, Laboratory of Genetics, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
UCSD Professor of Neurosciences

Dr. Gage has served as a member of the Committee on Social Issues for the Society for Neurosciences and the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association, the American Paralysis Association, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and the American Society of Gene Therapy. He is currently chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and president of the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Gage will discuss the basic terminology used by scientists to describe the structures and processes involved in stem cell research, the difference between therapeutic and reproductive cloning, and the cloning techniques that relate to stem cell research.

Lawrence Goldstein, Ph.D.
UCSD Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Dr. Goldstein’s research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of intracellular movement in neurons and the role of transport dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases. He has utilized mouse embryonic stem cells in his work. Dr. Goldstein will provide descriptions of human and mouse embryonic stem cells and explain why researchers believe there is so much promise for their use. In addition, he will summarize the legal and political issues surrounding the use of human embryonic stem cells, including the recent decision by President George Bush.

Fred Levine, M.D., Ph.D.
UCSD Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Member, UCSD Cancer Center

Dr. Levine is board certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics in two separate areas – clinical genetics and clinical biochemical and molecular genetics. He is also a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics and a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and the American Diabetes Association. Dr. Levine will discuss cell transplantation therapy for diabetes, including the limited amount of islet tissue and the potential alternative sources, such as embryonic stem cells, that could solve the problem. He will also describe his research in creating genetically engineered stem cells from adult beta cells.

Pamela L. Mellon, Ph.D.
Director, UCSD Center for the Study of Reproductive Biology and Disease
Co-Director, UCSD Transgenic Mouse and Embryonic Stem Cell Core
Professor, UCSD Departments of Reproductive Medicine and Neurosciences
Member, Council of the Endocrine Society

Dr. Mellon studies the regulation of hormone genes at the molecular level. Among the integrated program of molecular approaches she uses are 1) analysis in transgenic and knock-out mice; 2) generation of novel pituitary and hypothalamic cell lines; 3) investigation of the transcriptional regulatory proteins that control development, cellular identify, gene expression and hormonal response; and 4) genomic approaches including DNA chip analysis. Dr. Mellon is the recipient of a MERIT Award from the NIH (1997-2006), the Ernst Oppenheimer Memorial Award of the Endocrine Society, and the Young Investigator award of the Pituitary Society for Outstanding Research.

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