Harvard Plans Center to Grow Stem Cells
March 1, 2004
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 29 (AP) - Harvard plans to open a
multimillion-dollar center to grow and study human
embryonic stem cells, officials announced on Sunday.
The center could be the largest privately financed stem
cell research project in the country. It must use private
money to create new lines of stem cells because President
Bush, citing ethical considerations, limited federal
financing for such research to existing lines of cells.
After The Boston Globe reported the plans on Sunday,
Harvard released a statement saying it was "proceeding in
the direction of establishing a stem cell institute." The
final details are not complete, the statement said.
"Throughout the Harvard system, we have scientists working
on different aspects of stem cells," said Dr. Steven E.
Hyman, the provost. "The goal here is to bring them
together to create a very strong effort."
Harvard has not determined how much money needs to be
raised for the center, Dr. Hyman said.
The center, to be tentatively called the Harvard Stem Cell
Institute, would bring together researchers from the
university and its affiliated hospitals. About 20
researchers are now working on planning for the center, Dr.
Stem cells are found in human embryos, umbilical cords and
placentas and develop into the different types of cells
that make up the human body. Scientists hope to someday be
able to direct stem cells to grow into replacement organs
and tissues to treat a wide range of diseases, including
Parkinson's and diabetes.
But to harvest stem cells, researchers must destroy
days-old embryos, a procedure condemned by some religious
groups, opponents of abortion and others.
"Every success will change the argument," said Dr. Leonard
I. Zon, a researcher at Children's Hospital Boston and
president of the International Society for Stem Cell
Research. "The American people will not stand for
scientists not being able to work on their diseases."
Dr. Hyman said the Harvard researchers were taking concerns
about the use of human stem cells into consideration.
"We've already begun to engage people in the nonscience
community to help us address ethical and social issues," he