TRENTON – New Jersey is poised to become the first state in the nation to finance stem cell research.
Gov. James E. McGreevey (search) will announce in his budget address Tuesday that the state will provide $6.5 million for a stem cell research institute, The New York Times reported in Saturday's editions.
Rutgers University (search) and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey will run the institute, which will be based in New Brunswick.
McGreevey wants to spend $50 million over the next five years for research on human embryonic stem cells.
Wise Young (search), chairman of cell biology and neuroscience at Rutgers, said the hope is to recruit about a dozen of "the best stem cell scientists in the world."
Last month, the governor signed legislation making New Jersey the second state behind California to support stem cell research. In California, a ballot initiative is being proposed that would raise $3 billion over 10 years for stem cell research.
Stem cells are found in human embryos, umbilical cords and placentas, and help create the human body. Scientists hope to someday direct stem cells to grow in laboratories into replacement organs and tissues to treat a wide range of diseases.
But to harvest stem cells, researchers must destroy days-old embryos — a procedure condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, abortion foes and others.
President Bush, citing ethical considerations, has limited federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to existing lines of cells. But many stem cell scientists say the policy severely restricts research that ultimately could benefit millions of patients.