Dr. Theresa Deisher and Lawyer Samuel B. Casey

Plaintiff and Stem Cell Researcher Theresea Deisher Discusses the “Sherley vs Sebelius” Court Case

Wadman, M., 2011. The Crusader. “Theresa Deisher once shunned religion for science. Now, with renewed faith, she is fighting human-embryonic-stem-cell research in court.” Nature 470. P156-159.

Casey, S.B. 2011. A legal history of the federal funding ban on destructive human embryo research 1995 to the present. Jubilee Campaign, Law of Life Project. (provided by Mr. Samuel Casey).

Many more readings were covered for this video conference, and those titles can be provided upon request. mbarresi@email.smith.edu

Question 1

Dear Dr. Deisher, can you please tell us a bit about yourself, your career path over the years, the mission of AVM, and what led you and Dr. Shirley with the aid of Mr. Casey to file a lawsuit against the federal government for funding hESC research?

Michael Barresi

Question 2

Could you both set the stage for our discussion today by describing for us your legal arguments against the NIH for funding hESC research?

Michael Barresi

Question 3

Though hPSCs-derived cells may have certain problematic aspects, from a purely scientific standpoint, do you think any unique benefits lie in the use of hPSCs research?

Kim Chi Ngo

Question 4

What is your opinion on using technology to drive pluripotent stem cells down different differentiation pathways?

Christina Wright

Question 5

The article you gave us describes direct conversion from fibroblasts to hematopoietic cells. How significant do you anticipate direct conversion will be in the future (particularly in the case of cell types that are not closely related in terms of lineage)? Do you think we will one day be able to use this technique to bypass reprogramming to IPSC first?

Christina Wright

Question 6

In your “State of US stem cell field January 2011” presentation, you state that the US “leads the way as far as new therapies and medical treatments EXCEPT for adult stem cells outside of the cancer indications”. Could you describe some of the non-cancer related adult stem cell research going on internationally? How is it that they are pulling ahead of the United States? Do they have superior funding, or is it something else that is helping them to be so much more successful?

Sean McGill

Question 7

Setting aside their potential for therapeutic applications, human embryonic stem cells can also help in the study of basic science. For example, how can a single cell develop into a hundreds of different cell types? How cancer or other disease states arise? Human embryonic stem cells represent the first real model of human developmental biology. What is your stand on the need to understand basic science, since in some cases, this research may also lead to a better understanding of adult stem cells are first generated?

Gwen Nguyen Huynh

Question 8

Coming from a Catholic family myself, I am very familiar with specific church doctrine. Your argument against embryonic stem cell research seems to be one based on moral objections grounded in church teachings, which also oppose other forms of the embryo creation such as IVF. What is your stance on IVF? If embryonic stem cell research isn’t moral, wouldn’t that also extend to the source of the blastocysts creation in an IVF clinic? Should the leftover embryos from IVF be destroyed instead of being used for research?

Rachael Stein

Question 9

We talked to a lot of researches who have devoted countless years to stem cell research, both embryonic and adult. Everyone who worked with adult stem cells said that while overall NIH funding has decreased for both fields, they do not believe that embryonic stem cell research has taken away from their funding. When looking at the NIH website, I see that out the total amount of stem cell funding from 2007-2012, 10% goes to human embryonic stem cell research, while 27% goes to human adult stem cell research, and an even larger 45% has gone to nonhuman, nonembryonic stem cell research. Do you think that this 10% of funding of human embryonic stem cell research truly represents a threat to the available funding for adult stem cells? More of a threat then that posed by nonhuman, nonembryonic stem cell research?

Rachael Stein

Question 10

In the end who do you think should be involved in making the decisions about ethical and morally appropriate research? Should it be individuals, scientists, religious leaders of multiple faiths, or solely the catholic community under the leadership of the Pope?

Nadine McKenzie

Question 11

A poll by Charlton Research Company in 2005 asking whether Americans support embryonic stem cell research states that 58% of the population either strongly favor or somewhat favor stem cell research while only 29% strongly or somewhat oppose it. The court stated that “a stop order was consistent with the public interest” however how can this be true when there seems to be a majority in support of embryonic stem cell research?

Sylvie Bae

Question 12

To end our discussion today can you please comment on how you might proceed should your law suit be successful, should the court side with the federal government in favor of hESC research, or should congress pass legislation that would supersede your case?

Michael Barresi