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Crist announces stem cell recommendation at USF

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist visited USF’s College of Medicine on Wednesday, where he announced his recommendation to use state money to fund certain types of stem cell research.

Crist said he will call for $20 million as part of his budget recommendation to finance the research and provide ethical oversight, according to a press release.

The program will adhere to federal law, which limits the use of embryonic stem cells to those available from established lines, said Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Biotechnology Development Paul Sanberg. It will also provide for research on adult stem cells and cells derived from umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid and the placenta.

Sanberg said some researchers feel embryonic stem cells hold more potential, but he said, “The more we study adult stem cells and others, we find that there are very similar characteristics. One of the reasons we work in the adult stem cell or umbilical blood area is that these treatments are already being done at cancer hospitals for various cancers. We might be able to leverage on some of those findings to get into the clinic sooner, whereas the embryonic stem cells may take longer.”

Crist, a native of St. Petersburg, chose USF’s School of Medicine to make the announcement because of the research housed in the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, the press release states.

Sanberg, the director of the Center, said, “Getting additional funding can only help move our discoveries forward and into the clinic.”

Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and state Rep. Anitere Flores joined Crist for the announcement.

“I am committed to making Florida an international leader in innovative research to improve people’s quality of life, and stem cell research has the potential to relieve the pain and suffering of the millions of people living with degenerative diseases,” Crist said. “Every day, the miracles of science give hope to Floridians and their loved ones, and this funding will move stem cell research forward.”