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Stem Cell Teach-in
"The Science and Politics of Stem Cell Research"

Beginning in the 1960s, teach-ins were held on university campuses across the United States.  A teach-in was a time when the community gathered to reflect on important political realities of the day, such as the war in Indochina.

Today, we face another controversial issue that has divided our society: stem cell research.   For many, it represents their best hope of healing terrible illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, juvenile diabetes, spinal injury, MS, ALS, heart disease, and other medical conditions.  For others, stem cell research, when it uses embryonic cells, goes against their religious or ethical views, and they would have it banned.

Here in California, voters passed Proposition 71, the "California Stem Cell Research and Cures" Initiative, in 2004.  But the proposition is mired in political controversy, and none of the funds that it allocates for research have been released.

At our "Stem Cell Teach-in" we examined the science and politics of this historically new science.  The exhibits presented posters and, in some cases, printed hand-outs that go into the subject in a little more detail.  Exhibitors and visitors discussed the ins and outs of the science and politcis of the research.

We may develop our exhibits further and present them to the public on another occasion.  E.g. Sproul Plaza, Berkeley Farmers Market, and/or the Genetics Policy Institute conference at Stanford in early June.

List of teach-in exhibits:

Table 1.  Introduction to the Science, Ethics, and Politics of Stem Cell Research (Leonard Wong)

Table 2.  The Healing Potential of the Research: Spinal Cord Injury, Parkinson's, and Juvenile Diabetes (Joanna Wung)

Table 3.  Current Status of the Research at UC Berkeley (Atul Saxena -- he was unable to attend the teach-in and his exhibit was not presented)

Table 4.  Stem Cell Bank -- What it is and How it Works (Laurel Barchas)

Table 5.  Religious Perspectives on Stem Cell Research (Steven Lee)

Table 6.  Proposition 71 and the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (Raymond Barglow)

Table 7.  Stem Cell Research -- the Politics of the California Initiative Process (Tessa Berman)

Table 8.  Stem Cell Research: Other States and the World (Aisha Qamar)

Table 9.  UC Students' Attitudes Toward Stem Cell Research (Pei-Hua Wu)

Teach-in presentations and exhibits examine questions such as:

  •  What is stem cell research and what therapeutic promise does it hold?  Does the research need to work with human embryos?  What is "therapeutic cloning"?  What is a "stem cell bank"?
  •  How might stem cell research help understand and heal diseases like Parkinson's, juvenile diabetes, and spinal cord injury?
  •  Why has stem cell research become so controversial?  What ethical and political issues does it raise?  What are the opinions of UC Berkeley students and faculty on these issues?
  •  Where in California, in the nation, and in the world is this research being done?
  •   What is the status of stem cell research at UC Berkeley?
  •  How will the "California Institute for Regenerative Medicine," established by Proposition 71, organize and oversee stem cell research?
  •  How do the world's different religious traditions view this research?