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Press Advisory

Minding the Stem Cell Gap

Comparing Research Practices in the U.K. and U.S.

Washington, DC –  The United States pioneered embryonic stem cell research, first by isolating stem cells and then by providing millions of dollars for research. Since then, other countries from Singapore to Israel have flocked to support stem cell research as well. Advances in stem cell science hold promise for the treatment of many diseases and is regarded as one of the pillars of future medical research.

The United Kingdom has emerged as a leader in stem cell research and regulation, funding British research as well as facilitating international collaboration. The current stem cell research and regulatory climate in the U.K. has been an evolution of parliamentary and scientific advisory activities over the past 30 years since the development of in vitro fertilization technology.

Please join us and our distinguished panel of scientists and regulators from both the U.S. and U.K. for a lively discussion about the stem cell research climates in both countries: how they are similar, how they are different, and what each can learn from the other.

Alan Charlton, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy
Dr. Ann Kiessling, Director, Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation
Angela McNab, Chief Executive, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), United Kingdom
Jonathan D. Moreno, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Alison Murdoch, Professor of Reproductive Medicine, Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life
John D. Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Center for American Progress
Michael J. Werner, President, The Werner Group

RSVP for this Event

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Program: 8:30am to 10:15am
Admission is free.

Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW
Washington, DC 20005
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Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

For more information, please call (202) 682-1611.

Alan Charlton, Deputy Head of Mission, has been in Washington since May 2004. His role is to ensure achievement of the Embassy’s objectives in each financial year through co-ordination of the work of the different Departments, Consulates General and Consulates. He leads on specific projects. He deputises as Head of Mission when the Ambassador is out of Washington. Germany has been the main thread of his working life. As a 19-year-old he worked for six months in a bank in Munich. After qualifying as a teacher in Britain, he worked for two years in a German comprehensive school in Gelsenkirchen. In the British Diplomatic Service he spent four amazing years in West Berlin from 1986-1990 – before, during and after the fall of the Wall – when it felt that history was being made anew every day. He was posted to the British Embassy in Bonn in 1996 and moved, as Deputy Head of Mission, to Berlin when the German Government and Parliament moved there in summer 1999. A second important strand in his Diplomatic Service career has been the Balkans. He was head of the relevant department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1993 to 1995 and then became the British member of the Bosnia Contact Group, which included participating in the peace conference at Dayton, Ohio in November 1995. In 2001 he was Director South East Europe in the FCO, working with the international community to bring stability to that troubled region. The third main element has been the Middle East. He has been Israel desk officer; has served in Jordan; learned Arabic and worked in London on the Iraq war in 1991. He has also served on the Board of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as Director Human Resources. He was educated at Cambridge, Leicester and Manchester Universities, taking degrees in modern languages and linguistics and also a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. He was appointed Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1996.

Dr. Ann Kiessling is Director of the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation. She is also an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. She studied nursing and chemistry as an undergraduate and received a Master’s Degree in Organic Chemistry and a PhD in Biochemistry/Biophysics from Oregon State University. Her postdoctoral research explored relationships between viruses and cancer in the laboratories of Paul Neiman, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center; Lloyd Old, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Mehran Goulian, University of California, San Diego. The work in Dr. Goulian’s laboratory led to the controversial discovery of reverse transcriptase in normal human cells. Prior to this discovery, it had been assumed that reverse transcriptase was an enzyme found only in retroviruses. Her dual interests in virology and embryology led to research in semen transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as well as the creation of the first laboratory for Human In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in Oregon in the early 1980’s. Research in both areas has continued since her recruitment to Harvard Medical School in 1985. She has published over one hundred scientific papers covering both areas of research. Dr. Kiessling is also the proud mother of three daughters and a son, and an author of Human Embryonic Stem Cells: An Introduction to the Science and Therapeutic Potential, the first textbook to be published on this controversial topic.

Angela McNab is the Chief Executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in the UK. The HFEA was established in August 1991 following the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990 which is the foundation of UK embryonic stem cell research policy. HFEA’s mission is to safeguard the interests of patients, children, the general public, doctors, service providers, the scientific community, and also future generations. HFEA’s principal tasks are to license and monitor clinics that carry out in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and donor insemination, license and monitor research centres undertaking human embryo research and regulate the storage of gametes and embryos. Angela McNab started her career in the NHS as a clinician before moving into general health management. She is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist and Psychologist. 1999 Angela joined the Department of Health to lead on the development of the National Sexual Health and HIV Strategy. She returned to the NHS as Chief Executive of a newly formed North East London Primary Care Trust. In 2002 Angela moved into her current role as Chief Executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and in 2005 became the first Chair of the European Assisted Conception Consortium.

Jonathan D. Moreno, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and the Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfeld Professor of Biomedical Ethics as well as the Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia. Dr. Moreno is a member of the Board on Health Sciences Policy of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and of the Council on Accreditation of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs. He is immediate past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and was Co-Chair of the National Academies’ Committee on Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. He is also a bioethics advisor for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a Faculty Affiliate of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, a Fellow of the Hastings Center and of the New York Academy of Medicine. Moreno has been a senior staff member for two presidential commissions and has given invited testimony for both houses of congress. Moreno has published more than 200 papers, reviews and book chapters, and is a member of several editorial boards. He is an ethics commentator for ABCNews.com and is a frequent guest on news and information programs, including ABC World News Tonight, The CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, NPR’s All Things Considered and Science Friday, Marketplace, MSNBC News, CNN Crossfire, and The McLaughlin Group. He is often quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other national publications. Moreno has held full-time faculty appointments at Swarthmore College, the University of Texas at Austin, George Washington University, and the SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn. He was also a Special Expert in the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the Warren Magnuson Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He was a member of the National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee, a senior consultant for the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and has advised the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. During 1994-95 he was Senior Policy and Research Analyst for the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. Moreno received his bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in 1973, with highest honors in philosophy and psychology. He was a University Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, receiving his doctorate in philosophy in 1977, and was a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in cooperation with the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. In 1998 he received an honorary doctorate from Hofstra.

Professor Alison Murdoch is a Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life. Professor Murdoch completed her undergraduate medical studies in Edinburgh before moving to the North East to complete her training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Her MD Thesis was in Reproductive Medicine and this stimulated an interest in Infertility. At that time IVF was the new treatment and she established a service for the North East in Newcastle. The Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life is now recognised as one of the leading units in the UK. Professor Murdoch is Chair of the British Fertility Society, the national society which represents all those involved in the provision of care for the infertile patient. She is also an Inspector for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Her principal research interest is the ethical issues relating to the donation of embryos for research and human embryonic stem cell derivation. This results from a successful collaboration with scientists from Newcastle University Institute of Human Genetics at the Centre for Life. The group has derived several embryonic stem cell lines and has been granted a license from the HFEA to develop the technology of nuclear transfer for stem cell derivation (therapeutic cloning). The first successful procedure has been reported in August 2005.

John Podesta is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress and visiting professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Podesta served as chief of staff to President William J. Clinton from October 1998 until January 2001, where he was responsible for directing, managing, and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, Congressional relations, and staff activities of the White House. He coordinated the work of cabinet agencies with a particular emphasis on the development of federal budget and tax policy, and served in the President’s Cabinet and as a principal on the National Security Council. Podesta has also held a number of positions on Capitol Hill including: counselor to Democratic Leader Senator Thomas A. Daschle; chief counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee; chief minority counsel for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks; Security and Terrorism; and Regulatory Reform; and counsel on the Majority Staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. John is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Knox College.

Michael J. Werner is President of The Werner Group (http://www.thewernergroup.net/), a Washington DC-based firm that provides legislative, regulatory, and bioethics consulting services for life sciences companies, health care organizations, investors, and broad based coalitions. Michael has over 20 years of health care law, policy development and legislative/regulatory advocacy experience in Washington and is a leader in the biotechnology industry. Most recently, Michael was Chief of Policy for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), representing over 1000 biotechnology companies in the US and other countries. In that role, he led all of BIO’s policy development, legislative, regulatory, bioethics, and legal department activities. Prior to his promotion to Chief of Policy, Michael was Vice President of Bioethics for BIO. For several years, Michael has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR). Before coming to BIO, he spent six years as Counsel for Legislation and Policy for the American College of Physicians. Prior to working for the College, Michael was a senior advisor to US Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a congressional investigator for the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, and spent several years as a senior advisor to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer. Michael is the author of over 30 published articles and has spoken at many conferences and meetings. His most recent article will appear in the next issue of Oncologistics magazine.