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Public funding impacts progress of human embryonic stem cell research
Date:6/4/2008

research than other areas of molecular biology and genetics, and Singapore producing 2.6 percent more research.

"China and Singapore both showed impressive performance in human embryonic stem cell research," said Levine. "Although these countries are very different, both have been striving to grow their biomedical research communities and it seems likely they focused on human embryonic stem cell research, in part, because they saw that traditional scientific powerhouses like the United States were moving so tentatively in this area."

Australia had a more mixed policy and a more mixed result. While Australia does allow new stem cell lines to be created from fertility treatments, it explicitly banned the use of stem cells derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer from 2002 to 2006. Beginning in 2006 scientists were allowed to use stem cells from somatic cell nuclear transfer, but under strict regulatory guidelines. That may explain why Levine's study found that Australia showed a more modest result of producing only 1.6 percent more human embryonic stem cell research than other areas of molecular biology and genetics.

The United States, however, is significantly under-performing in this area. Although Levine's study found that the U.S. produced 36 percent of the research performed on human embryonic stem cells, far more than any other country, when he compared those studies to other areas of research in molecular biology and genetics, he found that the U.S. had a deficit of 10 percent.

Although the U.S. government is the funding source for 63 percent of academic research and development, federal funds can only be used for studies on a small number of stem cell lines produced before August 9, 2001. As a result, much research in this area in the U.S. is done either with state money or private money.

Given that scientists have less incentive in the private sector to publish research papers, it's possible that Levine's m
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Contact: David Terraso
david.terraso@comm.gatech.edu
404-385-2966
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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