Perry Talks Biomedical Research, Is Mum on Stem Cells

To be or not to be; that is the question for frozen embryos in Texas.

The state of Texas could use some face-saving in the world of science right about now.

Recent blows to its intellectual credibility include a controversy over language regarding evolution in state science curriculum, and an effort by several Senate Republicans to ban embryonic stem cell research funding in the state budget bill (which passed the Senate).

Gov. Rick Perry’s recent speech before the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of American annual conference therefore comes at a propitious time.

In his address, he urged continued investment in the biotechnology industry and touted Texas as the premier state for biomedical research.

However, Perry spoke on more neutral topics such as drug and technology development and did not refer to stem cell research in his address, except obliquely. The state Emerging Technology Fund (ETF), which he called a strong incentive for biomedical business, supports only adult stem cell research.

"I’m proud to say that Texas currently invests more in basic biomedical research than all but two other states, but I am troubled that we rank in the bottom half when it comes to commercializing biomedical discoveries," he said.

The ETF currently invests in companies that are working to find cures for obesity, develop products to prevent diabetes-related amputations and a cancer therapy treatment.

It is also unlikely that Perry would have any problems with the current provision on the budget bill if it passes the House.

"He supports adult stem cell research, and that is what the rider does. If embryonic stem research does go on, we want to make sure that state funds do not pay for that. Texas is a state that respects life, and that there are promises with adult stem cell research," a spokesperson from his office said.

Holly LaFon has written for D Magazine and Examiner.

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