New York State researchers would like to jump on the bandwagon for state- supported embyonic stem cell research. The heads of 17 New York universities and institutions with substantial biomedical research programs released a white paper (www.rochester.edu/news/pdfs/stemcellwhitepaper.pdf) in February that makes a scientific and economic case for the state to fund such research. The document, urges Albany legislators to pass two stem cell funding bills that would allocate $300 million and $125 million each over several years.
The bid stems, in part, from New York's need to compete for the best scientists from states like California and its neighbors, New Jersey and Connecticut, where there is a push to use state funds to aggressively lure New York researchers, according to the white paper. Though New York is well-suited geographically as a potential stem cell research hub, state funding is crucial in allowing New York institutions to remain on the cutting edge of research, say funding proponents. "We're one of the top two or three areas in terms of concentrated biomedical research in the nation," says Dennis Charney, dean of research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, which last spring inaugurated the Black Family Stem Cell Institute, backed by a trustee's $10 million donation. "If we're not competitive in areas like stem cell biology, New York will suffer," says Charney.