NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
January 10, 2006


Silver Introduces Bill to 'Realize Great Potential' of Stem Cell Research

Assembly Passes Measure Seeking $300M in Funding to Encourage Life-Saving Medical Advances; Prohibit Reproductive Cloning; Promote Economic Development Strengths

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried today announced the Assembly had approved, with strong support, legislation (A.6300-A) aimed at keeping New York State at the forefront of biotechnology advances and medical care by creating the New York State Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine. The public benefit corporation would be funded by a total of $300 million over the next two years to foster and support vital explorations in the treatment of chronic degenerative diseases.

According to Silver, the Institute would provide financial and other support for stem cell research and other initiatives related to regenerative medicine. The landmark bill will promote the development of life-saving and life-enhancing regenerative medical treatments, therapies and cures.

The legislators, who noted the Assembly had over the past three years strongly advocated for state support of stem cell research and therapeutic cloning, again called for a ban on human cloning. As it has in the past, the bill backed by Silver and Gottfried would prohibit the use of reproductive cloning, while allowing critical scientific activities concerning both therapeutic cloning and stem cell research, as well as the related applications of such research, and in-vitro fertilization. Violations of the reproductive cloning prohibition would include prosecution as a Class D felony and possible civil penalties of up to $1 million.

"Reproductive cloning holds many ethical and moral taboos. It is a practice we want to ensure does not take place in New York State," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "However, stem cell research is a valuable tool for scientists in the quest to solve the mysteries of some of our most terrible illnesses. Stem cell research holds promise for the legions of people who are stricken with conditions ranging from spinal cord injuries to infertility."

"Ordinarily, Americans rely on the federal government to fund biomedical research. But Washington is failing to fully fund stem cell research for political and ideological reasons that have nothing to do with science. The states have to step in, and New York should be in the lead," said Gottfried (D-Manhattan).

"As medical science advances toward a cure for some of the most debilitating diseases facing our communities, it is becoming increasingly clear that the solution may be found in therapeutic cloning and stem cell research," said Silver, who has been a staunch supporter of the potential of this promising new medical technology and has sponsored legislation to ensure its appropriate use since 2003.

"When I first introduced legislation in 2003, I was honored to join Christopher Reeve in his fight to advance stem cell research," said Silver. "With his death two years ago, the world lost a truly inspiring crusader who fought not only on his own behalf but for the countless millions who suffer debilitating, life-threatening diseases that may be addressed through this type of critical research. We must seek to further the potential of these lifesaving efforts by tapping into the world-class scientific resources in which New York has already made investments, such as the biotech research corridors around the Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo, at SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island and in the Lower Manhattan Bioscience Corridor."

The institute created under the bill would be governed by a board of 19 members, to be appointed by the speaker, the governor, the temporary president of the Senate, the attorney general and the comptroller.

The not-for-profit agency established by Silver's legislation would also:

  • make grants and loans to further stem cell research and regenerative medicine and to support facilities involved in this work;
  • support development of regenerative therapies, from research to clinical trials;
  • establish necessary and appropriate regulatory and oversight processes, procedures and structures for research and facilities development; and
  • prioritize the use of funds for scientific work that has the greatest potential for producing therapies and cures specifically utilizing stem cell research.

Funding would be supported by $300 million from the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA) over the next two years. For the period January 1, 2006 through June 30, 2006, $50 million would be allocated. Funding would grow to $250 million for the period July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007.

"New York State is world-renowned for the excellence of its academic medical institutions," said Assemblyman Pete Grannis (D-Manhattan), chair of the Insurance Committee. "This bill will put New York at the forefront of exciting new research to develop cures for diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancer and other diseases."

"Stem cell research, now in its infancy, gives us hope that doctors can replace diseased or dysfunctional cells with healthy functioning ones. That means preventing, alleviating, even curing a host of serious illnesses and injuries so costly in terms of both human suffering and of money. New York, with all its intellectual resources, should be a leader in this vital research. For all these reasons, I am glad to support Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver," said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), who chairs the Task Force on People with Disabilities.

"We need to draw upon the strengths of New York State's research institutions to help advance medical science. This legislation recognizes New York as a leading center for biotechnology with great accomplishments in cutting edge research and with great promise for further scientific achievement as well as economic growth. This initiative will take the next step," said Assemblywoman Adele Cohen (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology.

The lawmakers noted that a report issued last year by New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi highlighted the importance of the state's biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, which employed more than 54,000 New Yorkers and generated more than $18 billion in economic activity in New York in 2003.

The Hevesi report noted that by supporting and encouraging growth in these industries, New York State could gain 7,000 jobs in these areas over the next seven years. An estimated 5,000 of these jobs would be in manufacturing and could buoy the economies of Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, where biotech already has a presence and manufacturing employment has been in decline for years.

Organizations in support of the bill include New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research (NYAMR), which consists of: Academic Medicine Development Company (AMDeC), a biotechnology advocacy organization; American Diabetes Association; Biotechnology Association of New York; Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation; Columbia University Medical Center; Community Health Charities of New York; Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; Lupus Foundation; Parkinson's Action Network; Parkinson's Alliance; Parkinson's Disease Foundation; Project ALS; and the Tourette's Syndrome Association.

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