Well, I’ve been delinquent. Part of it is that my DSL has been giving me fits and I am in fact switching to a different provider this week, and part of it is that there really hasn’t been much happening. Lots of sound and fury about stem cell research in general still, but very little concrete action. No new good research. A few things are of interest in the human affairs side of it:
In the “whatever happened to…” category, Hwang Woo-suk is back in a lab doing animal research. He lost his license to work with human cells, but can still carry on with animals, provided that he does it at his own expense. No more funding for him! His reputation is so shot that he is widely expected never to publish again, so I don’t know what he’ll do with the outcomes of his research. Apparently he is doing work with organ regeneration in pigs. Read all about it on The Hindu and in Chosun Ilbo.
Other news has to do with funding for stem cell research in Illinois. This has been somewhat controversial, as $10 million was shifted by the governor from a line item for “scientific research” in the budget specifically to stem cell research without legislative approval. Now, some of the grant money is being distributed. The Belleville News-Democrat reported last week that the first $5 million in grant money has been disbursed; the 7 researchers are located at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, Southern Illinois University, and both the Chicago and Champaign-Urbana campuses of the U of Illinois. The newspaper of SIU, The Southern, also has a story, most of which focuses on the issue regarding the source of the funds. I have to say that, while I am glad the research is going ahead, it does seem like it was somewhat of an underhanded way to do it and I don’t think these decisions should be made by executive fiat. I don’t completely absolve the Legislature—they could have asked what “scientific research” meant and refused to approve it that generally—but I don’t think Gov. Blagojevich is setting a good precedent for a reasoned discussion of the issues.