NEW YORK, Aug. 31 – Entrepreneur and philanthropist Jim Clark struck out against President Bush’s stem cell policy today by announcing that he will withhold $60 million of a $150 million pledge to Stanford University’s Bio-X program, an interdisciplinary biomedical research initiative.
Clark’s suspension of funding, according to Stanford University, is “to protest evolving federal policies and restrictions on stem cell research and potentially on non-reproductive cloning.”
While Clark’s suspension will not immediately affect the Bio-X program as Stanford has already received $90 million from Clark to construct the center, according to Bio-X director James Spudich, the restrictions that Clark is protesting could affect long-term avenues available for genomics research.
“If one has stem cells changing and differentiating, one would use genomics to analyze expression patterns,” Spudich told GenomeWeb . “It you don’t have cells, you can’t do that.”
“Stem cells, like recombinant DNA, can be a tool to explore the genome,” Paul Berg, emeritus professor at Stanford Medical School and Nobel laureate, told GenomeWeb . “Everything impinges on genomics and proteomics, it is the central thing in life. Gene function [studies] in stem cell lines could be affected” by Bush’s policy.
Commenting on Clark’s payment suspension, Berg said, “It sends a message and hopefully it will be heard in Washington.”
Clark, a former Stanford faculty member, went on to found the companies Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon.