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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.


Contact: Christina Holmes/William Morris
phone: (415) 405-3606, cell phone:(415) 609-1666


SAN FRANCISCO, August 10, 2001 --- Two San Francisco State University faculty members who are experts on the science and ethics of stem cell research are available this weekend to provide analysis on the continuing discussion of President Bush's decision on government funding of stem cell research. Both professors have contributed widely to the debate over this issue and have extensive experience working with national and local media outlets.

Laurie Zoloth, director of the Jewish Studies Program at San Francisco State University and an associate professor of social ethics and Jewish philosophy, is available to discuss the ethics of stem cell research. She can also explain the Jewish perspective on the debate, i.e. why most Orthodox and Liberal Jews support research on stem cells. Zoloth currently serves as president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

Zoloth can be reached at her cell phone: (510) 410-2265. Or call her home office: (510) 525-8764. Her e-mail is:

Zoloth's position:

"I support basic research in embryonic stem cells. This position comes as a result of my scholarship in traditional Jewish texts. In these texts, human blastocysts in the first few days of development and before implantation in a women's womb are not the moral equivalents of human beings. Judaism is also clear about the duty to heal. And the focus of my research has been on our ethical obligations towards healing rather than the issue of competing rights.

"My position also comes after years of research on the ethics and science of human stem cells. I've been convinced that the science is just beginning to be understood and holds extraordinary potential not only for tissue transplantation, but also for basic research on birth defects and on embryonic development. Understanding stem cells and how they become committed to specific adult cells will go a long way in helping us understand the process of cancer, of aging, and of degenerative disease-potentia lly saving hundreds of thousand of lives.

"President Bush's compromise, especially given his stance in the past and his commitments-both personal, religious, and political-while not a complete solution to this problem, offers a way for us to continue the discussion and to continue the science. It sets up a bioethics process to review and reflect on the work. This kind of civic witness is perhaps the single most important part of his statement. It establishes the legality and the essential ethical permission to do research in this arena."

Michael Goldman, professor of biology, is available to discuss bioethics in scientific research in relation to stem cell and other genetic-related research. Goldman's background is in issues surrounding genetics, including cloning, genetic testing, gene therapy, and the human genome.

Goldman can be reached at his cell phone: (415) 595-7671. Or call him at home: (650) 359-7451. His email is:

Goldman's position:

"President Bush's decision represents a reasonable, temporary compromise respecting all points of view," said Goldman. "Because much of the work on stem cells is in the early stages we can make additional progress using the commercial cell lines that are already available. But in time additional cell lines and experiments involving the production of stem cell lines from cloned embryos will be required to realize the full therapeutic potential. "Those who are sensitive to killing embryos should recognize that we're looking at a stage of development so early that the cluster of cells don't resemble a human being in any way, and a natural conception at this stage of development would not be a recognizable pregnancy."

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