(New York, NY -- January 14, 2005) -- With state funding initiatives for embryonic stem cell research in the news almost daily, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is launching a major national initiative this spring to encourage state legislators across the U.S. to pass favorable stem-cell research laws in their states. SOS: State of Stem Cells was organized to educate state legislators and government officials about the potential for stem cell research to help their constituents suffering from chronic and frequently incurable disease.
Hadassah members in 42 states will be advocating in their state capitals for pro-stem cell research legislation and stem cell funding initiatives. Thirty of those visits to state capitals will take place on Wednesday, March 2, making SOS: State of Stem Cells the single largest advocacy day ever undertaken by Hadassah – with 300,000 members, the largest women’s, largest Jewish and largest Zionist organization in the U.S. Advocacy days will take place in another dozen states on dates throughout the spring.
“The promise of stem cells to cure or alleviate chronic and catastrophic disease may be the greatest medical revolution of the 21st century and it is critically important that money is allocated for its research,” said June Walker, National President of Hadassah. “With the recent funding initiatives in California, New Jersey and Wisconsin – and Connecticut and Massachusetts just over the horizon – we feel that the greatest potential for funding lies with the states. On March 2, Hadassah women across the land will have substantive and meaningful conversations with state legislators to convince them to enable this research.”
Hadassah, a powerful grassroots voice for Israel, health and women’s issues, is also the founder and supporter of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Scientists at its Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy have been carrying out research on embryonic stem cell lines since 1998, when six lines were established, registered with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and are thus eligible to receive NIH funding. Five lines are actively distributed worldwide.
Recently, Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff, a lead researcher at the Institute, announced that human embryonic stem cells can improve the functioning of laboratory rats with Parkinson's Disease. In a research protocol that was published in the prestigious journal Stem Cells, Reubinoff’s team saw improvements in Parkinsonian symptoms in laboratory rats injected with embryonic stem cells. The embryonic cells were able to replicate brain cells that had died as a result of the disease.
SOS participants will brief their legislators on this and other important developments. Upon returning to their home communities, they will take the momentum of the day and intensify their efforts to advocate for a hospitable environment for stem cell research in their state.