Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wish Me Luck!

It's that time of the season again, when academic researchers all over the country submit their grant proposals for review to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It's a crapshoot these days. The success rate for new proposals sent to NIH hovered around 10% last year. That means 90% of these proposals, translating into months of hard work and brainpower, were trashed. But the way I figure it, if you don't submit a proposal at all, you have a 0% chance of success. It's sort of like the motto of the New York State Lottery-- "You've gotta be in it to win it."

And so, I sent my proposal to NIH on Friday. They've already messed it up by creating a 50 page pdf document of my proposal, but leaving 3 blank pages where my letters of collaboration should be. But, we'll get that straightened out in the next day or two.

The review cycle at NIH is very long. My proposal, submitted June 15th, will receive a score from the review panel in Oct./Nov, and the funding decisions based on scores will be in January. The earliest start date for the project (when the NIH check would arrive) is April 1.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sad commentary...

Thanks to Linda for sending this video:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Stem Cell Bill Comes Up Again

I received the following letter from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR):

Dear Eyedoc333,

Attention Friends and Colleagues of Stem Cell Research:

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, S.5, this week. This bill passed the Senate in April 2007 as S.5 but differs slightly from H.R. 3, the version of the bill that passed in the House in January 2007. Because of these differences, the bill must return to the House for approval before being sent to the President. It is crucial that the bill pass with a strong majority. The ISSCR strongly supports S.5 and encourages scientists and health professionals in the United States to add their individual voice.

The ISSCR is encouraging you to contact your representatives to urge them to support this important legislation.

The ISSCR has already sent a letter to every member of the House and Senate on behalf of ISSCR leadership, but it is equally important that individual voices within the stem cell community are heard as well. The letter sent out by the ISSCR is found below the text of this e-mail and may be adapted and used to contact your representatives.

ISSCR's Letter to US Senators in preparation for their vote on S.5:

Honorable Senator / Congressperson
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

April 4, 2007

Dear Senator / Congressperson:

As representatives of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), we are writing to urge you in the strongest possible terms to support passage of S. 5, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007.

Passage of S. 5 would ensure that scientists in the United States can use Federal grant funds to study the many valuable human embryonic stem cell lines that have been developed since August 9, 2001, the date that President Bush announced his stem cell research policy. Indeed, S. 5 is the surest means to accelerate research dedicated to finding better therapies for patients suffering from a wide variety of terrible diseases.

As the primary international organization of scientific, ethical, and clinical researchers in the field of stem cell biology, ISSCR speaks for our many members who study stem cells of all types. S. 5 is consistent with long-standing scientific and ethical positions of ISSCR.

Our scientific opinion is that research on stem cells of all types should be pursued with the goals of reducing human suffering and better understanding human physiology. S. 5 also includes safeguards to ensure that appropriate research practices are followed.

Our strong support of S. 5 is based on the newest research findings presented at our last annual international meeting in Toronto, Canada. New data presented at this meeting demonstrated that many of the human embryonic stem cell lines generated since August 9, 2001 have excellent characteristics, and appear to have substantial advantages for high quality and rigorous biomedical research.

You might hear during the debate about a list of 72 conditions that can supposedly be treated with adult stem cells. We urge you to question the validity of these claims. While adult stem cell therapies are powerful, they are not as wide-ranging as claimed. The range of diseases effectively treated with adult stem cells is still extremely restricted, largely limited to blood disorders and specific cancers. A vote for S. 5 will ensure that all avenues of stem cell research are adequately explored.

We are also concerned that S. 30, a bill introduced by Senators Coleman and Isakson, will siphon votes away from S. 5 and yet not adequately advance the cause of stem cell research. S. 30 will not allow the use of federal funds to study the majority of valuable human stem cell lines. If supported instead of S. 5, Senators Coleman and Isakson's bill would continue the inadequate American Federal policy that is delaying worldwide progress in this vital area of research.

In closing, we remind you that the welfare of millions of people worldwide depends on medical research that can help alleviate the suffering caused by injury and illness. Passage of S. 5 will help to meet this scientific and medical challenge and will also send a message of hope to the many American patients that could be helped by research with new stem cell lines.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing issue. We look forward to a change in American Federal policy so that the very best scientific and clinical research may proceed.