Stem Cell Debate Provides Lens into Waning American Influence

The contrast is sharp. There are two important stories about stem cells today. The first, from FoxNews is entitled "States Consider Harder Line on Stem Cell Research." It's about how state legislators are moving to block expanded stem cell research following Obama's move to loosen restrictions. Smart!

The second, from GlobalPost's Patrick Winn, highlights Thailand as "the future home of stem cell research."


"Worlds away from the political din surrounding stem cells in America, more and more parents are choosing to bank the cord blood of their newborns to use, perhaps, in future medical treatments," writes Winn. "Thailand could be well-positioned to cash in on the trend, as the business of storing stem cells relies on two factors: high birth rates and a class of moneyed parents. Thailand, already a regional healthcare mecca, has both." In response, "a handful of start-ups — Thai StemLife, Cyroviva Thailand, Cordlife and others — are now vying to store stem cells from the roughly 800,000 babies born each year in Thailand."

Compare that with the progressive minds coming out of Georgia and Oklahoma who "are considering bills that would limit, if not outright prohibit, scientists from working with human embryonic stem cells in their research to cure or reverse medical conditions, including diabetes, paralysis and Parkinson's disease," according to James Osborne at FoxNews. And, "in Texas and Mississippi, lawmakers are considering blocking state funding for that research, mirroring existing laws in other states."

If the United States is going to thrive in a global economy, everyone--even lawmakers in the American South--are going to have to embrace technology and medical innovation. Let's hope that if any of these legislators, or their families, are struck with any of the fatal diseases potentially cured by stem cells, they are able to afford the trip to Thailand. It is becoming increasingly difficult in a nation that punishes innovation.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less