Kirk Hosts Stem Cell Symposium at Northwestern University

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) hosted a stem cell symposium at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine on Monday, using the event to nudge Congress toward adopting policy to allow stem cell research.

“The potential of stem cell research to cure Alzheimer’s, cancer or diabetes is limitless if we aggressively support American medical research,” Kirk said, according to a story on Northwestern’s website. “Stem cell research offers the best promise to cure juvenile diabetes and certain blood cancers. That is why I believe Republicans and Democrats should unite behind keeping the United States first in medical research.”

Embryonic stem cell research is governed by executive order by the president; Kirk wants the most recent executive order from President Barack Obama to become law.

Kirk was joined at the symposium by Jack Kessler, MD, and Richard Fessler, MD, PhD, both of whom are stem cell researchers at Feinberg; Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, director of the University of Chicago Institute for Cardiovascular Research; Amarjit Virdi, PhD, graduate director at Rush University Medical Center in the Division of Anatomy and Cell Biology; and Jonny Imerman – a cancer survivor – and 9-year old Jared Kuper, a regional youth ambassador for the American Diabetes Association.

Kirk said that ongoing legal challenges – specifically Sherley v. Sebelius – have made it necessary to codify Obama’s executive order.

“If senior Democratic senators choose not to move this legislation in this Congress, I will,” Kirk said.

Uncertainty over federal funding hurts science and “is a huge disincentive to our young and most promising investigators to do human embryonic stem cell research,” Kessler said, according to the Associated Press.

Feinberg School of Medicine, the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine and the American Diabetes Association are all Research!America members.

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