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JDF Washington Report
Vol. II, No. 1, January 13, 1999

JDF Testifies Before the Senate on Stem Cell Research as a Potential Cure for Diabetes

On Tuesday, January 12, 1999, Doug Melton, Ph.D, Chairman of the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at Harvard University, represented the JDF during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the merits of stem cell research. Dr. Melton has both a professional interest in furthering diabetes research as well as a personal interest because his seven-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as an infant.

Scientists believe that human stem cells could be stimulated to develop into pancreatic islet cells to replace those that have been destroyed in people with Type 1 diabetes. Stem cells have the potential to develop into any tissue or organ in the body, and yet cannot develop into a full human being. Moreover, these cells could be engineered in such a way that people who receive them might not need highly toxic immunosuppressive drugs, currently a major obstacle to successful islet cell transplantation. Leading scientists, including National Institutes of Health Director Harold Varmus, have cited research into Type 1 diabetes as one of the areas that could most benefit from further federally supported study of stem cells.

Dr. Melton was joined by a patient from the Parkinson's disease community and a researcher representing the American Society for Cell Biology. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) chaired the hearing and ranking member Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) also attended. Yesterday's hearing was the second hearing considering issues relating to stem cell research, federal funding and the medical and scientific communities' view on the merits of this research.

To read Dr. Melton's testimony and the accompanying Reuters news stories covering the hearing, please go to

Juvenile Diabetes Foundation - Government Relations
1400 I Street, NW #500
Washington, DC 20005
1-800-JDF-1VOTE ex. 5 (800-533-1868)

Posted 17 January 1999

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