Tommy Thompson Urges President to Create Commission to Support Adult Stem-Cell Research

Former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary is in Rome for a conference on adult stem cells organized by Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture and the U.S.-based Stem for Life Foundation.

VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA)—At the Vatican today, Nov. 8, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson urged President Obama to establish a commission to support adult stem-cell research.

“I want President Obama to bring all this adult stem-cell research together,” Thompson told EWTN News in Rome on Nov. 7.

Thompson says he wants a body created within the National Institutes of Health that will “be able to use the resources that we have in America to really put regenerative medicine into the forefront of therapies creating new breakthroughs in disease control.”

Thompson is in Rome for a three-day conference jointly organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and the U.S.-based Stem for Life Foundation, which promotes adult stem-cell research. He will be joined by more than 350 other policymakers, medical experts, educators and religious leaders.

Thompson, who is a former governor of Wisconsin and planning to run for the U.S. Senate, outlined how a presidential commission could work.

The commission would bring together “private-sector business leaders,” who would then “evaluate all of the federal efforts to date surrounding regenerative medicine,” he said. That group would also make “specific recommendations to our president on how we can better coordinate these efforts and unite them with the best of private enterprise.” He noted, however, that “to date, nothing has been done” by the Obama administration.

Thompson’s idea was well-received by the rest of the launch panel, including Dr. Robin Smith, the president of Stem for Life Foundation. She told EWTN News that she found the concept “really interesting.”

“I think it is very important to get Congress and different political leaders like President Obama to understand adult stem cells,” so that “we can unite to get a more impactful outcome, decreasing needless human suffering by getting these therapies into clinics,” she said.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells. From them, all of the body’s 200-plus types of tissue ultimately grow. Their incredible versatility means they have the potential to provide replacement tissue to treat numerous disorders.

The Catholic Church approves of stem-cell research but disapproves of those cells being culled from the killing of an embryo or fetus. “Adult” stem cells are taken from the patient’s existing stem cells or from the placenta or umbilical cord at birth.

Smith explained that the use of adult stem cells avoids “the ethical dilemma posed by the use of embryonic stem cells,” because adult stem-cell research and therapy “allows us to advance scientific knowledge while protecting every stage of existence.”

She also explained that there are now more than 3,500 adult stem-cell clinical trials already creating “therapeutic benefits for things like diabetes, lupus, MS and blindness, just to name a few.”

The conference, which begins tomorrow, is entitled “Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture.”

“This conference is going to dispel a lot of the old myths and bring in a lot of education; a lot of new scientists and new reports are going to be discussed; that is going to help the world discuss adult stem cells in a new and better light,” said Thompson.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to bring together different nations, different political leaders, different religious leaders to help us take adult stem-cell therapy to the public,” said Smith.

She believes that the conference will educate society, advance people’s understanding of the potential the research has to change culture, change lives and decrease human suffering.