Stem cell experts fear brain drain
Brussels/Washington – EU stem cell researchers feel under pressure since Barack Obama lifted the 8-year-old US ban on federal funding of research on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in March. “From the moment he lifted the ban, our postdocs were invited to US conferences, where competitors tried to hire them,” Cologne-based stem cell researcher Jürgen Hescheler told EuroBiotechNews. UK stem cell pioneer Stephen Minger said that the lift of the ban could easily support a brain drain from Europe to the US. “There is a danger that researchers will vote with their feet and flock to the US if they think funding is more readily available and more easy to obtain (there) than in other countries.” An NIH spokesman told EuroBiotechNews that currently no budget has been adopted for research on hESCs, but that stem cell research is “one of 15 priority areas for which US$200m have been allocated.” Funding will be available for research on existing stem cell lines, but not for their derivation, based on guidelines laid out in the Jay Dickey Amendment of 1995.