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Utah ethicist heads stem cell panel
Date:9/22/2009

SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 22, 2009 University of Utah medical ethics expert Jeffrey R. Botkin will chair a federal panel that will review scientists' requests to conduct government-funded research using embryonic stem cells left over from couples who used "test-tube fertilization" to have babies.

"Stem cells have the capability of developing into any tissue type in the human body," says Botkin, a pediatrician and associate vice president for research integrity at the University of Utah. "If scientists can better understand the development of stem cells into different body tissues, then it may be possible to use stem cells to treat a wide variety of diseases that are caused by tissue aging, damage or degeneration."

"For example, if stem cells can be coaxed into developing into pancreas cells, it may be possible to use them to treat diabetes," he adds. "This is a very exciting area of biomedical research that offers great promise down the road."

Expanded use of cells from embryos left over from in vitro fertilization is made possible by an executive order signed March 9 by President Barack Obama. The order loosened the more restrictive policy under former President George W. Bush.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins announced Monday his agency now is accepting requests for lines of human embryonic stem cells to be approved for use in NIH-funded research. Collins also named a new nine-member Working Group for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Eligibility Review, with Botkin as its chair.

Botkin who also is chief of the University of Utah School of Medicine's Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities says he was picked as chair due to his background in research ethics, and his past service on federal advisory committees, including one dealing with the protection of human subjects in research.

"Also, the fact that the
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Contact: Lee Siegel
leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu
801-581-8993
University of Utah
Source:Eurekalert

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