High Profile Stem Cell Scientist Heads for Lone Star State
by Sarah CrawfordThursday, May 19, 2011
One of Michigan’s most prominent embryonic stem cell research scientists will soon make the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas his new home. Sean J. Morrison is the director at the Center for Stem Cell Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. Morrison was recruited by UT Southwestern Medical Center, in collaboration with Children’s Medical Center, by a grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) which is funded by a $3 billion tax-payer initiative to promote cancer research. Morrison is expected to arrive in Dallas in September with a dozen people from his Michigan lab.
In 2008, Morrison helped spearhead the campaign to unravel Michigan’s laws on stem cell research. One of his main arguments was that if Michigan did not allow research on embryonic stem cells, the state would become a hostile environment for researchers and hinder scientists from seeking work in Michigan:
The University of Michigan is world-renowned for its groundbreaking work in stem cell biology research, and Morrison is internationally known for pioneering endeavors with embryonic and adult stem cells. A lab was named after him at the University of Michigan where he has served on the faculty since 1999. Recently, U of M researchers manufactured the state's first human embryonic stem cell lines that hold the genes responsible for inherited diseases. Michigan law requires engineered human embryos for IVF or other reproductive purposes who are found to carry diseases must be donated to facilities for research instead of being disposed of immediately. In other words, imperfect, nascent human lives are sacrificed for research in the true Hitlerian, utilitarian fashion.
The political climate in Michigan may be cooling toward stem cell research; some speculate whether the change inspired Morrison southern migration. According to Morrison, the opportunity to move to Texas could not be passed:
[Cancer research is] potentially going to change the landscape of biomedical research in the United States because they are investing major resources in recruiting leading scientists to Texas, resources that other states can't compete with.
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