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THURSDAY, June 12, 2003

Welcome and Opening Remarks

CHAIRMAN KASS:  Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to the members of the President's Counsel on Bioethics to this, our 11th meeting.

A very special welcome to Jim Wilson who rejoins us after successfully completing several months of medical treatment.  He has escaped from the leeches in better shape than before.

(Laughter.)

CHAIRMAN KASS:  Welcome, too, to the members of the public. 

I note the presence of Dean Clancy, the Designated Federal Officer, in whose presence this is a legal meeting.

Jim has asked for a moment to address the Council.

PROF. WILSON:  I simply wanted to apologize for my long absence.  I did not realize during my absence that Leon, in the spirit of kindness to which he is so disposed, had not revealed the reason, but I had to be at home for 90 consecutive days.

Ninety consecutive days are over.  I'm fine, and I'm back to join you as mean spirited as ever.

Thank you.

(Laughter.)

CHAIRMAN KASS:  That's why I have him close.

The agenda for this meeting, as you  know, the bulk of this meeting will be devoted to biotechnology and public policy and our project to assess the current state of regulation of the technologies that touch the beginnings of human life with panels this afternoon from a variety of stakeholders and their representatives and tomorrow morning with a discussion of the discussion document that the council commissioned the staff to prepare.

The first session this morning is separate and is a continuation of our efforts to fulfill the charge to monitor stem cell research.  The topic of stem cell research will be the heart of the July meeting.  We have commissioned five or six scientific review papers from leading researchers to review the work in stem cell research, embryonic and adult, that has taken place since August of 2001.

We also have commissioned an ethics review paper and a paper that will review relevant legislation, federal and state, that has been enacted since that time.

Today, in advance of that meeting, we are trying to inform ourselves about one crucial challenge to the possible therapeutic uses of stem cells and their derivatives, the problem of immune rejection.  This, as many of you know, is an area of intense research activity, not just of stem cells but across the board in transplantation of solid organs.

And we are very fortunate to have with us as our guest this morning Dr. Sylviu Itescu, who is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Cardiology Division at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and also the Director of Transplantation immunology at Columbia Presbyterian hospital of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Itescu's curriculum vitae is at your place, and the paper that he has submitted, I think, was delivered to you at your hotel rooms, and it is, as he acknowledges, a technical paper, but one I think that will, in addition to the discussion that he's now going to lead us through, will help us a lot, I think, in thinking through this particular crucial problem in the area of stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

Dr. Itescu, thank you very much for your paper, for your presence, and we look forward to hearing from you.

 


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