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Speaking to the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Roberts shares her vision for stem cell research in Rhode Island and calls on scientists to engage the public in their work

PITTSBURGH— Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts shared her vision for stem cell research in Rhode Island and called on scientists to engage the public in their important work. Roberts spoke before more than 225 national scientific experts in the areas of stem cell research and regenerative medicine yesterday at the annual retreat sponsored by the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a program of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The McGowan Institute serves as the single base of operations for the university’s leading scientists and clinical faculty working to develop tissue engineering, cellular therapies, biosurgery and artificial and biohybrid organ devices.

“I think that government can and must inspire us as a society to keep working to be better tomorrow than we are today. To keep investing in science and research. To keep pushing for, and supporting, that next innovation, that next treatment, that next cure,” Roberts said. “We are moving forward in Rhode Island. I— along with so many others in the state— are committed to ensuring that stem cell research is not just one of those issues politicians campaign on and then do nothing about. As long as the experts keep telling me that this is where we should be focused, I will keep pushing for government support and facilitation.”

Roberts was invited to speak to the faculty, guests and clinicians of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine in response to the report she issued in April 2007 entitled “Discovering Rhode Island’s Stem Cell Future: Charting the Course Toward Health and Prosperity.”

Since the release of her report, Roberts has worked closely with scientists, legislators and members of the public on developing a biotechnology economy in Rhode Island and has focused on the unique issue of cord blood banking. Cord blood banking provides both individuals and scientists with a wealth of cells that have capability to hold treatments and cures for the most destructive and debilitating diseases. The Umbilical Cord Blood Bank Act, Roberts’ legislation introduced this session and sponsored by Sen. Leo Blais (R-Coventry, West Greenwich) and Rep. Eileen Naughton (D-Warwick), would enable information dissemination on cord blood banking options for parents. The important bill also directs the state to ensure that mechanisms are in place for parents to publicly donate their cord blood, allowing all Rhode Islanders to take advantage of the life-saving properties of umbilical cord blood and opening new avenues of research to scientists in the Rhode Island.


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