Gov. Doyle: Discusses Wisconsin’s Next Steps in Stem Cell Research

WAUKESHA – Governor Jim Doyle today discussed ways Wisconsin can continue to move forward with stem cell research in spite of President Bush’s veto of H.R. 810, critical bipartisan legislation that would have allowed the federal government to fund research on new stem cell lines.  The Governor met with Sherie and Mike Crowley of Waukesha, who have a personal stake in potential life-saving stem cell research because their son Andy lives with diabetes.

“In spite of the action taken by President Bush last week that flies in the face of what the Congress and what the public wants, we will not turn our backs on the countless families who hope that science may one day unlock the cures to diseases long thought incurable,” Governor Doyle said.  “Wisconsin will continue to move forward with stem cell research.  We will continue our efforts to capture 10% of the stem cell market by 2015 and we will continue working on the Institutes for Discovery and will become one of the world’s leading centers in biotechnology and stem cell research.”

Governor Doyle met with Sherie and Mike Crowley, and their 10-year-old son Andy.  Andy was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 2 years-old, and will be insulin dependent until a cure for diabetes is found.  Since his diagnosis, Andy has had over 18,000 finger pokes and over 7,300 insulin shots.

Wisconsin is the birthplace of stem cell research.  In 2005, Governor Doyle vetoed attempts by the Wisconsin State Legislature to criminalize the most promising techniques used in this research.  Over the last three years, Governor Doyle has vastly expanded the state’s investment in this critical field and set a goal that the state should capture 10% of the stem cell market by 2015.  He also launched a $750 million initiative to develop stem cell research in Wisconsin.  The centerpiece of this effort is the planned construction of the Institutes for Discovery in Madison.

H.R. 810 sought to lift barriers on stem cell research that could lead to treatments and cures for a wide range of debilitating diseases and conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and cancer, while imposing ethical guidelines that are stricter than those currently in place.  The legislation would have greatly expanded scientists’ access to new, healthy, uncontaminated stem cell lines that are off-limits to federally funded research under the current restrictions. 

On August 9, 2001 President Bush announced he would limit federal funding to a few dozen stem cell lines in existence at that time.  Recognizing the vast potential additional stem cell lines may have, last year, H.R. 810 passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.  The U.S. Senate passed the bill early last week.

President Bush vetoed H.R. 810, the first veto of his presidency.  House republicans voted to prevent an override of the President’s veto ensuring the President’s restrictions will remain in place.