Symposium to link stem cell research, public policy

February 22, 2007

Public policy issues related to human embryonic stem cell research will be the topic of a half-day symposium co-sponsored by the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the WiCell Research Institute on Friday, March 2.

"The Potential of Stem Cells: Public Policy Issues Beyond the Microscope" will feature presentations by several campus experts. The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 1-5 p.m. at the Fluno Center for Executive Education, 601 University Ave.

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) Managing Director Carl Gulbrandsen will open the symposium with a brief history of stem cell research at UW–Madison, and provide an overview of current patenting, licensing and regulatory issues.

"The pioneering efforts of researchers at the University of Wisconsin have resulted in fascinating discoveries and advancements in human embryonic stem-cell research over the last decade," Gulbrandsen says. "Understanding the legal, regulatory and legislative environment within which we work is key to our future progress."

Brad Barham and Jeremy Foltz of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics will speak about patenting and licensing of scientific research by universities, while Pilar Ossorio and Alta Charo of the Law School will speak about bioethics, regulation and state policies related to stem cell research. Stephen Maurer of the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, will present on open-source biology.

"This collaboration with WiCell will advance the public policy debate on stem cell research," says Barbara (Bobbi) Wolfe, director of the La Follette School. "Stem cell research continues to be a prominent issue on the federal, state and local policy agendas. The questions that will be addressed are also important for many other scientific advances and will guide the role of universities for decades to come."

The Wisconsin Legislature founded the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs in 1984. The Legislature named it in honor of one of the state's greatest citizens and to give flesh to the Wisconsin Idea, the practice of extending the university to the boundaries of the state and beyond.

As a supporting organization of UW–Madison, the WiCell Research Institute is dedicated to expanding the frontiers of science and medicine by unlocking the potential of stem cells. WiCell conducts research, supports research at UW–Madison, hosts the National Stem Cell Bank, provides training for scientists, and offers educational outreach programs for K-12 students and the community.

For information or to reserve a seat, contact Alexis MacDonald of the La Follette School at acmacdonald@wisc.edu or (608) 262-3581.