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Archive for Tuesday, March 26, 2013

House approves bill requiring KU Medical Center to establish stem cell research center

March 26, 2013

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— A bill supported by abortion opponents that would require the Kansas University Medical Center to start a center on adult stem cell research was approved by the House on Tuesday.

State Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, described the bill as “pro-life,” in that adult stem cell research has the “potential to establish cures that improve the quality of life and extend life.”

But opponents of Senate Bill 199 said legislators shouldn’t mandate KU start a center without any state funding, while many of those same legislators also voted to cut funding to the school in the state appropriations bill.

And the opponents said KU did not ask for the bill and that traditionally the startup of a research and treatment center requires a lengthy planning process that brings together school leaders, researchers and the business community before approaching the Legislature.

“We are in uncharted territory,” state Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, said.

“Stem cell research and therapy is incredibly complex,” Bollier said. “The doctors and researchers who are involved know what they are doing and they don’t need us to set up a specific stem cell treatment center.”

Bollier tried to add an amendment to the bill that she said was needed to tighten up legal issues on the research, but her proposal failed, 40-74.

State Rep. Susan Concannon, R-Beloit, said it was proper for the Legislature to direct universities.

“Maybe this would never happen because of the political questions involved,” Concannon said. “The stem cell center would possibly never be built if not for the direction of the state.”

The bill, approved 90-32, would require the KU Medical Center to establish the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center to advance adult, cord blood and related stem cell therapies.

The bill would prohibit the center from using embryonic stem cells or cells taken from aborted fetal tissue. Abortion opponents oppose human embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of the embryo.

Under the proposal, KU would appoint a director of the center who would be responsible for oversight of patient treatment and research. The center would require $1.1 million to renovate a lab and hire staff and $750,000 annually after that. But the funding has not been provided by the Legislature.

Supporters of the bill said KU could solicit grants, gifts and contributions.

An amendment to the bill added in the House means it will go back to the Senate for further consideration but could possibly be agreed to and sent to Gov. Sam Brownback, who has said he supports the proposal.

Comments

tange 1 year, 8 months ago

"We are in uncharted territory," state Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, said.

Ah, Kansas.

_

Bradley Kemp 1 year, 8 months ago

This is nothing more than an attempt to enshrine in state statute a bias against embryonic stem cell research. It's well-charted territory; in fact, it's been the object of Sen. Pilcher-Cook's legislative agenda for nearly a decade.

Next up will be bills to ban embryonic stem cell research in Kansas and to prevent Kansans from receiving any therapy using embryonic stem cells. Pilcher-Cook has introduced such bills before, and this latest one is just groundwork for new ones.

lucky_guy 1 year, 8 months ago

Reminds me of the Old Soviet days when they required that farmers soak their wheat seeds in cold water before planting to get them used to the cold weather. Makes perfect sense to me, if you are doing this on faith and not reason. What is the penalty if KU doesn't start a program? Will Rep Bollier throw a fit? Call down fire and brim stone? Since there is no money set aside there is no money to lose if KU ignores them?

weeslicket 1 year, 8 months ago

no! no! no!

it was: Kansas. The land of "Ah's". (you left out the incorrect apostrophe!!!)

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 8 months ago

What will they do if KU does not comply? Cut their Funding? Guess they will need to draft a bill Mandating Grants, Gifts and Contributions then.

TalkSense 1 year, 8 months ago

If it's "proper for the Legislature to direct the universities" then there's no longer any need for the Kansas Board of Regents, its staff, or campus administrators. The Legislature could just as easily "direct" Kansas State's College of Agriculture to create a center for transforming weeds into wheat, or Wichita State's Aerospace Engineering Department to a create a center for flying pigs. Adult stem cell research is at least a legitimate subject for study. (Notre Dame, for example, has an Initiative on Adult Stem Cell Research and Ethics.) But since no one at the KU Medical Center appears to have research expertise in this area, and since no one - state, private, or federal - is offering to fund the proposed center, legislation such as this illustrates how dangerously clueless our elected officials are about the true nature and purpose of the state's public universities. The same Legislature that can direct a university to create an unfunded research center can also direct individual faculty as to what they're not allowed to study, i.e., "No funds or facilities of the midwest stem cell therapy center shall involve embryonic stem cells or fetal tissue cells." In other words, researchers could not pursue that line of inquiry even if it might help them better understand adult stem cells. Once a political group - regardless of party - appoints itself to "direct the universities" you've lost what makes those universities so valuable to the state and its students: an environment of free and unbounded inquiry leading to unimaginable discoveries.

HutchSaltHawk 1 year, 8 months ago

So the Legislature takes away funding and then mandates that KU expands teaching and expand research areas. Am I missing something? KU used to be state supported, then it became state assisted. How do we categorize it now? Given that a large percentage of our lawmakers do not have college degres, do they understand the role of higher education. Maybe the universities should privatize so they can actually function as universities of higher learning, and not extensions of mediocrity.

John Sickels 1 year, 8 months ago

So they are

A) Ordering KU to do something, but B) Providing no funding, and C) Cutting funding by 2-4%.

The legislature is completely incoherent. They are just flat stupid in addition to sadistic.

Hadley_says 1 year, 8 months ago

Dear Editors.

"Stem Cell Research" and "Adult Stem Cell Research" are decidedly very different subject matters.

Your headline reflecting the former, when what is being discussed is the later, is very much central to the problem of confusion of terms.

weeslicket 1 year, 8 months ago

FG: "momma always said, stupid is as stupid does"

riverdrifter 1 year, 8 months ago

"State Rep. Susan Concannon, R-Beloit, said it was proper for the Legislature to direct the universities." Meddle is what she really means. Perfect illustration of the need for KU to insulate itself from these statehouse nutties.

Bob Forer 1 year, 8 months ago

in response, the Med Center should print some letterhead, buy a Gilbert Chemistry set, and call it done.

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