Vatican reboots stem cell meeting for 2013 after giving ES cell researchers the boot

Get out of Hell Free CardThe Vatican is still interested in stem cells and after its own debacle with a stem cell meeting planned for 2012 that turned into a scandal for them. For that original 2012 meeting they had wisely invited a full spectrum of stem cell researchers including those working on embryonic stem cells, to have great discussions. As a result of the presence of researchers who work on both adult and embryonic stem cells, the meeting was canceled and was basically a disaster.

The Vatican now has planned a new, apparently sanitized stem cell meeting for 2013. The meeting website is here.

Apparently not welcome at the 2013 meeting, being held April 11-13, 2013, is anyone who has worked on embryonic stem cells.

Of course the Vatican (or anyone for that matter) can throw any conference they want and invite or not invite anyone. I’m cool with that.

However, I see this as an unfortunate, missed opportunity for the stem cell field to have real, open dialogue that is inclusive rather than exclusive.

The reality, whether the Vatican likes it or not, is that a very large percentage of Catholics support embryonic stem cell research. Some of these folks are good friends of mine, people who believe in God, and believe that embryonic stem cell research is ethical. It’s a way to help suffering people in the future.

Dr. Robin Smith, President of The Stem for Life Foundation is quoted about the meeting as follows:

“Regenerative medicine is poised to revolutionize disease management by finding new ways to boost the body’s ability to heal itself. Whereas today treatment for many diseases is a matter of managing symptoms, regenerative medicine seeks to reverse the course of the disease by targeting its cause and repairing diseased or defective tissues or organs.”

According to the press release for the rebooted Vatican meeting:

With renowned journalists serving as moderators — Meredith Vieira from NBC News, Bill Hemmer from The Fox News Channel, Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal and Dr. Max Gomez from WCBS-TV — The Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference will feature leading adult stem cell scientists and clinicians, thought leaders of faith, ethics and culture, business leaders as well as Ministers of Health, Ambassadors to The Holy See and regulatory officials from around the world.

I wonder why Vieira is there? I don’t recall her having anti-embryonic stem cell views. Any thoughts?

I cannot find any list of speakers on the meeting website yet. Let’s see who’s going!

6 thoughts on “Vatican reboots stem cell meeting for 2013 after giving ES cell researchers the boot


  1. I notice both the Vatican web site and the NASDAQ story only refer to ‘adult stem cell’ therapies. I take this to mean they are not even going to discuss iPSC research? Perhaps they are blurring the distinction between adult stem cells and iPSCs. But perhaps they are becoming wary even of iPSC research given the recent papers on creating mouse gametes from iPSCs?


    • Hi John. Good point. There is a debate on what to call iPSCs. Some folks call them “adult stem cells” so it is possible that they could be discussed at this meeting. However, I believe iPSC are their own unique type of stem cell. I’ve also noticed some folks on the pro-life side of things becoming less enthusiastic about iPSC lately, which is an interesting trend that seems based on moral reasons that I do not totally understand.


  2. This is certainly an interesting post, but I don’t understand why it’s illustrated using my business card. I can assure you my cards are DECIDEDLY not issued by the Vatican, as even a quick glance at the card’s site would illustrate!


    • Embryonic stem cell researchers are said to be going to hell by the Vatican so they need your card! Thanks for your permission to use it! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Schedule is up for Vatican Stem Cell Meeting plus some perspectives | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

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