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U.S. Stem Cell Ruling May Boost Asian Research

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on August 24, 2010

Asian countries are well-positioned to benefit from the latest setback for stem cell research in the U.S. During the Bush years, countries such as Singapore and China took advantage of the U.S. ban on embryonic stem-cell research by providing a more welcoming environment for scientists to work. See, for example, this story I did back in 2005 about Asian efforts to capitalize on the U.S. ban. Describing what he called the "astonishing" progress made in Asia, Robert A. Goldstein, chief scientific officer at New York-based Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, told me then that many Asian governments were asking themselves: “Since the U.S. doesn’t seem to be taking a lead role, why don’t we?”

With Obama’s election and his easing of restrictions, that question became moot as the U.S. got back in the game. Now, though, the Aug. 23 ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth halting U.S. funding for embryonic stem-cell research is a reminder of the uncertainty surrounding the issue in the States. Even if Judge Lambert’s ruling is overturned on appeal, what happens if Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, or some other conservative Republican defeats Obama in 2012? Count on a new executive order banning research before the Inauguration Day balls are even over. There’s almost zero chance of any such change in policy in Singapore, China, or other Asian countries aspiring to be centers of stem cell research.

Reader Comments


August 26, 2010 12:53 AM

One more stupid move by the people of the US, and all medical research will be out-sourced to Singapore, Seoul, and Shanghai. Then Americans will be rewarded for their ignorance, by receiving outdated, and antiquated health care.
Get schooled. It's educational....

Andy Hao

August 28, 2010 3:27 AM

Keep going and keep it that way !


August 29, 2010 11:28 AM

The game was over 30 years ago when US companies moved manufacturing, followed by R&D, overseas in droves. American technology companies are the most shortsighted bunch, trading short term profits for their own long demise by cultivating their future competitors overseas.

Ashley Hall

August 31, 2010 11:30 AM

If the United States doesn't want to support stem cell research, then Asia is making a smart move in taking the lead in this field. Whether or not you agree with its use, stem cells do have significant potential for treating diseases. If Asia is able to make advancements in finding cures, it's likely that people will simply travel from the U.S. to get treated.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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