Brennan walked with them to work, after tagging along on a dog walk and a trip to drop their 6-year-old daughter at school.
Later, the conversation transitions into a science meeting as the two take the 20-minute walk past UCI’s Ecological Preserve and into the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. The energy-efficient building, with an open design to encourage chance meetings among scientists, houses a roster of high-powered researchers as well as their experimental subjects: rodents.A trial based on work by the couple, in collaboration with StemCells, Inc is underway in Switzerland (we blogged about that trial here).
The center was seeded by $27 million in state stem-cell funding and $10 million from donors Bill and Sue Gross. The building was completed in 2010.
Now, researchers working there cultivate lines of human embryonic stem cells that can grow into a variety of cell types, from brain cells to liver and heart cells.
The $27 million in state stem cell funds was a Major Facilities grant from CIRM. The story goes on to discuss the origins of CIRM and misconceptions about stem cells:
Created by voter initiative – Proposition 71 in 2004 – CIRM is California’s $3 billion answer to federal restrictions on funding for stem-cell research. Those restrictions were started by the Bush administration and eased, but not eliminated, under President Obama.You can learn more about CIRM awards targeting spinal cord injuries and videos about the work on our web site.
Cummings said opposition to their research is based, in part, on incorrect assumptions.
A big one is that the research involves the destruction of embryos. In reality, they work with balls of cells created at an earlier stage of human development, called blastocysts – a distinction many opponents do not draw.
“Embryonic stem cells don’t come from embryos,” he said. “And they never have.”
The raw material comes from fertility clinics and otherwise would be discarded.
Cummings says those who say that such research is immoral have it wrong.
“The argument is backward,” he said. “It’s immoral to throw away this stuff and not use it to help someone.”