Scientists Look for Jobs Abroad To Avoid Bush `Brain Drain'

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif-Officials at the University of California, San Francisco recently learned they will be losing one scientist to Cambridge, with many other researchers looking for jobs abroad as well. It isn't a new culture that is sending some of the more prominent American scientists to foreign countries, but their search for a different political opinion concerning stem cell research.

Roger Pederson, a biology professor at UCSF will be leaving the university to take a position at Cambridge late this summer. He said a "brain drain" from US universities and research centers has pushed him to England to continue his experiments with stem cells. The political environment in the US surrounding these controversial experiments is too unstable for professors who have years of work and millions of dollars invested in their work.

One of President Bush's first actions after being elected was to ask US Department of Health and Human Sciences Secretary Tommy Thompson to review the guidelines of funding for stem cell research. This process is supposed to establish a review board, which has not happened.

The research is controversial because the cells are often taken from aborted fetuses or leftover embryos after test-tube fertilization. However, last year the National Institute of Health passed guidelines that allow federal funding for such research. Those filing the suit say the cells may provide cures to many diseases and disabilities.

Stem cells are considered the building blocks of human life. They are basically blank cells that change into specific cells with time. Research has shown promise in animal testing; however, it is unknown if such results would be similar in humans.

Another UCSF professor, who is working on pancreatic cells in hopes of finding a cure to diabetes, is also considering foreign employment. Didier Stainier, who has discovered how stem cells develop internal organs in fish, has shown how a specific protein gets stem cells to produce the foundation of pancreas, liver, and other organ cells.

Pedersen's work, which has bee supported by Geron, Inc., was taken off campus in April because he feared officials would think federal funding was indirectly supporting his work.

Officials at the University of Wisconsin have also reportedly moved their stem cell research lab to an off-campus location.

Information from www.sfgate.com

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