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Letter: Let Obama modernize stem cell research

To the Editor:

As the national advocacy and government affairs coordinator for the Student Society for Stem Cell Research, I'm eagerly anticipating action by President-elect Barack Obama on the issue of embryonic stem cells. President-elect Obama should immediately reverse President Bush's executive order on stem cell research.

Federally funded stem cell research is currently limited to stem cells created before August 2001. Since President Bush's executive order in 2001, research into diseases that could benefit from stem cell therapies has been crippled.

As we approach 2009, imagine the frustration of working on an 8-year-old computer - it's similar to what federally funded researchers forced to work with stem cells from 2001 experience. Federally funded stem cells are simply "worn out." It's time to give researchers the tools and resources necessary to develop cures.

Research at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute and University of Wisconsin Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center show promise for treating diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and stroke.

Parkinson's, for example, currently has no cure and costs the U.S. $25 billion per year. My family understands the huge emotional and economic impacts of these diseases -- a family member was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's when I was in high school. My family member is one of the estimated 128 million Americans afflicted by a disease that may be cured through stem cell research.

Investment in stem cell technology will lower the cost of treating disease, create jobs and attract investment to our state. Our federal and state officials must provide the policy support for economic stimulus and innovation through research.

The journey toward solutions to the medical problems ailing society is long and we've lost valuable time during the last eight years under President George W. Bush. Join me in urging our newly-elected officials forward on the pathway to cures.

Matt Hanzlik