25 Apr Doyle authorizes $5 million to woo stem cell companies
Wauwatosa, Wis. – With the goal of capturing 10 percent of the stem cell technology market by 2015, Governor Jim Doyle Tuesday signed an executive order directing the Department of Commerce to spend at least $5 million in economic development money to recruit new stem cell companies to Wisconsin.
Doyle said the executive order, signed at the Medical College of Wisconsin, reaffirms the state’s commitment to stem cell research. Proponents of stem cell research cite its potential to help scientists find therapies for life-threatening and debilitating diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, which Doyle alluded to during the signing ceremony.
“Wisconsin – the birthplace of stem cell research – is giving millions of families hope that one day diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Juvenile Diabetes may be conquered,” said Doyle, whose mother suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. “These breakthroughs in medical science can transform our economy and open our doors to the high-paying jobs of the future.”
Doyle has tied the state’s economic future to the knowledge economy, including stem cell research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin. He said experts predict that the market for stem cell products could reach $10 billion over the next ten years, translating into more than 100,000 jobs. The state’s biotechnology firms already contribute nearly $7 billion to the economy and account for 22,000 jobs.
The MCW is conducting stem cell research to create beating heart cells that could eventually replace heart tissue damaged in heart attacks. During a press conference in which Doyle signed the executive order, his actions were endorsed by two researchers, Drs. Stephen Duncan and John Lough, who lead the college’s research team.
Last November, Doyle vetoed a bill that would have criminalized what he called “some of the most promising scientific techniques used by stem cell researchers. Citing the potential of competition from states like California, New Jersey, and Illinois, Doyle said the executive order is necessary to send a clear signal to researchers in Wisconsin and beyond that stem cell research is “a vital part” of the state’s economic future.
“There is not a state in the country today that would not trade our place for theirs in terms of stem cell research,” he stated.
Human embryonic stem cell research is controversial because the stem cells are derived from embryos, which are then discarded. Citing ethical and moral considerations, Republican Mark Green, who is Doyle’s likely gubernatorial opponent, has called for restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research. As a Congressman, Green co-sponsored a ban on human cloning.
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