Letter from HSCI Scientific Directors

March 9, 2009

Dear friends and colleagues,

Today marks the beginning of a new era in our quest to unlock the full capacity of stem cells to develop treatments and cures for diseases and conditions that plague humankind.

Like you, we listened today to President Obama’s announcement with enormous relief.  We feel relief from the bureaucratic and accounting burdens that have slowed our work, discouraged young scientists, and delayed progress for nearly eight years. We feel relief that scientists can now collaborate openly and freely with other scientists in their own University and elsewhere, without restrictions on what equipment, data, or ideas can be shared.  We feel relief because we know that science thrives when there is an open and collaborative exchange, not when there are artificial barriers, silos, constructed by the government.

Today we celebrate having the freedom to use stem cells to explore ways to replenish our bodies, repair injury and combat disease.  This is what has always driven us and today we learned that the government will support this quest rather than stand in the way. We believe that patients everywhere will be cheering us on, imploring us to work faster, harder, and with all of our ability to find new treatments.
Perhaps most important, we believe that today marks an important change in spirit, in our national outlook.  August 9, 2001 was a dark day for science and for America because political ideology was used to define how science should be done.  When we gathered at 11:45 in our labs to hear President Obama’s announcement, we were gathered to celebrate for our science, but we were also gathered to celebrate hearing our nation’s leader state forcefully that science should inform our thinking and policy decisions.  Science as a way of knowing is a very powerful tool for good and it is liberating to hear that science, not political ideology, will guide the Obama Administration in its decisions. 

And so we return to our mission recharged, knowing that now we have not only your support, which is what has sustained us these long years and made our work possible, but the support of the federal government.

Today would never have happened were it not for you, and for that we, and present and future generations of patients will be eternally grateful.

Doug Melton and David Scadden

See also: 2009, Announcement