Stem cell research essential to keeping United States competitive

The primary message of those seeking support for stem cell science is that the research offers enormous hope of leading to treatments and cures for a myriad of diseases.

So the message delivered by keynote speaker David Gergen at HSCI’s Third Annual Tony and Shelly Malkin Stem Cell Symposium in late October came as a surprise to the stem cell scientists and supporters who attended.

“It strikes me that this effort on stem cell research ought to be based on more than how can we alleviate human suffering, as important as that is,” said Gergen, Professor of Public Service at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Director of the School’s Center for Public Leadership.

The push for support of stem cell science, Gergen argued, should be part of a larger effort to increase support of science education and science and technology research — an effort that is essential if America is going to remain competitive in the current global economic environment.

“I believe there ought to be a very big, serious effort that’s undertaken by universities, by corporations, and by citizens who are willing to lend their support to form a really drive home in Washington and around the country that we must invest much more seriously in science, technology, and math to keep this country on the cutting edge,” Gergen told the gathering at the Harvard Club.

Calling for a coalition of corporate CEOs, university presidents, and other interested citizens to carry the science education and research message to Washington and the rest of the country, Gergen concluded, to loud applause, “We need to build a culture that says what you’re doing is precious to our future.”

The annual symposium, which is held in the fall, is made possible by a generous gift from Tony and Shelly Malkin, who are strong supporters of HSCI’s educational mission.