U.S. Stem Cell Research Falling Way Behind


USA Today — which has been excellent on the stem cell debate — reports today that researchers from top U.S. institutions are (surprise!) stymied in their research efforts by inadequate funding. The piece cites an April article in Nature Biotechnology that found U.S. embryonic stem-cell research papers dropped from 36 percent of all such publications in 2001 to 26 percent in 2004. Says the lead author:

“We probably can expect this veto to make closing the gap we documented in our study more of a challenge to U.S. researchers. It wouldn’t be surprising if we see more U.S. human embryonic stem-cell researchers, including some of the top researchers, moving abroad.”

The journal reported that this month 15 percent of stem-cell “principal investigators” had received job offers overseas, a rate more than five times higher than for other biologists. In 2004, American biologists put out only 20 studies on stem cell research, half the number published by their colleagues outside the U.S.

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  • Elizabeth Gettelman is a former managing editor and public affairs director at Mother Jones. To follow her on Twitter, click here.