SAN FRANCISCO — At the keynote session of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) meeting, speakers called on members to resist restrictions on their freedom to do vital research by loudly proclaiming the value of their work to society. In the Saturday evening talk, titled, "Opportunities and Challenges in Cell Biology," molecular biologists Andrew Murray of Harvard University and Ron McKay of the National Institutes of Health focused, respectively, on potential research opportunities in the "genomic era" and what stem cell studies can reveal about development and disease.

However, biologist Steven Block of Stanford University and bioethicist Alta Charo of the University of Wisconsin Law school warned that government restrictions will unreasonably hamper such research.

Block said that restrictive regulations on biological agents in the wake of the October 2001 anthrax attacks in the US will do more harm than good, discouraging research that would be vital in the...

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