Stem cells are cells that can essentially turn into any type of cell that they engineered to be. People commonly say “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” However something like the human body is so fragile and can break at any moment, people are diagnosed with diseases everyday. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to offer cures to horrible diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.? That is something that Stem cells can provide. Stem cells are cells that can be engineered to be another type of cell that can essentially “fix” many things in the human body. With Stem cells being so important and having so many capabilities there should be more funding available to be able to see them to their full potential.
Many people are frightened by the idea of stem cells because they seem to believe that this is the first step towards petri dish babies. This mass hysteria and fear towards stem cells has been around since the beginning especially with the Bush administration. In the past decades there has been many developments which can help ease this worry. In the past stem cells were derived from via embryos from in-vitro fertilization, which is why President Bush vetoed further funding for stem cell research. He claimed that using these embryos is considered taking “precious human life.”(Clemmitt, 2006). Because of Bush’ views there was not much money allocated to further stem cell research. Stem cell research is so vast and the article above even discussed how it is very unlikely that only a couple privately funded labs can solve the problem for advancements with diseases as big as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, etc. This exemplifies the need for greater funding to be put forward for stem cell research. (Clemmitt, 2006)
So how can the negative perception of stem cells be subsided? Currently scientists are working with a new type of stem cells derived from regular cells. Because of stem cell research scientists have discovered a way to turn adult somatic cells into pluripotent cells which can be turned into pretty much any cell. This is done by introducing genes in the form of a virus vector. (Meyer, 2008) This shows that already great strides have been made and some of the ethical worries have been lessened over the years. There isn’t as much of a concern that typically came from stem cells that were derived via embryos which had been previously seen as unethical. This eliminates previous concerns on why they should not be funded
The fear of stem cells should not stop the further research of them, and to continue this research there needs to be more funding. This push back against a scientific advancement isn’t isolated just to stem cells. This fear was seen before when organ transplant first came about. An article called “Organs and Stem Cells: Policy Lessons and cautionary tales” highlights similarities of concerns which included where are the cells/organs coming from and at what point are organs/cells considered alive and owned by someone. (Kahn, 2007) This should also offer incentive for policy makers to not be fearful of stem cells, but instead more eager to learn more and turn them into a more applicable medical method. Organ transplant was once feared but look at it now. Organ transplants are now lifesaving and help a tremendous amount of people each year. Knowledge is power and the only way this power can be obtained is through further research which requires further funding.
I am not saying that there is no current funding for stem cells, instead I would like to highlight that much of this funding is from private philanthropies. This is good in the sense that it can help save the government money. However, this also leads to the issue that these philanthropists can shape the agenda of whatever research that they are funding. They can shape it to be what they want, and this research is not only a reflection of whoever is doing it but also the country. If these research advancements reflect this country, this country should want to monitor it, which it does. Some scientists over the years have even become fed up with the harsh regulation and lack of funding that they have chosen to take their research oversees where they would be given adequate funding. One such scientist is Rodger Pederson who left to England in 2001. He claimed, “’I chose to move to a country that was willing to provide support, broad support, for this research’'(Paarlberg, 2009). At the end of the day it is a race to see which country can develop the best results from stem cell research, and knowledge is power.
Additionally, if the governments want to take credit or pride themselves on whatever findings are made, they should also help fund this research. In an article about philanhrotopic funding, Murray says that we need “ balance the direction of research for the nation as a whole compared to directions spurred by a few wealthy individuals, whose research preferences may be highly idiosyncratic or not well matched with broader social goals.”(Murray, 2020) Again since stem cells are such a touchy topic, the government should intervene and fund this research. The government is more of a reflection of what the country needs or wants opposed to few wealthy individuals. Currently private funding is also very limited, for example a professor at Harvard that has tenure may get is project funded but what about the state schools that have many eager students ready to make strides as well? These schools won’t get funding and in turn may hinder the discovery of further advancements in stem cell research. The more minds on this project, the more funding, the faster real advancements can be made.
Stem cells should be funded by the government, and it should be made a point to include more public California institutions in this stem cell arms race. Many of these schools have research programs and students eager to be involved in cutting edge research. So, although our current medical procedures aren’t “broken” they should be improved whenever possible and stem cells can be this very improvement. Currently stem cells are unpredictable and scientists still have much to figure out. However, with additional funding stem cells could be the new “organ transplant” and can change be a game changer. Overall, more funding towards stem cells can help give the United States a cutting edge in this new scientific outlet