Thursday, February 23, 2006

CHI, Stem Cells, Love and Morrow

The California Healthcare Institute made some stem cell news this month with the appointment of a new director to its board and with the involvement of its chief counsel in an faith-based political flap.

CHI, a biomed industry group and supporter of the California stem cell agency, named Ted Love, chairman and CEO of Nuvelo Inc. of San Carlos, a biopharmaceutical firm, to the CHI board of directors. Love is also a member of the Oversight Committee of the California stem cell agency.

Earlier this month, CHI and stem cell research surfaced in a different way in the congressional campaign of Republican state Sen. Bill Morrow. His wife, Barbara, is vice president and general counsel of CHI.

Her connection to CHI became an issue, at least for some, because CHI supports embryonic stem cell research, something that Christian activists oppose.

According to the Agape Press web site, whose motto is "reliable news from a Christian source:
"Senator Morrow does not deny that his wife is employed at the Institute. But he claims her work as general counsel does not require her to promote the company's position on ESCR. The state lawmaker explains that his wife took the job after much prayer and consideration.

"'We sat down with pastors and nationally known bioethicists who were Christians and ministers ... before we accepted that position,' Senator Morrow says.

"Morrow states that he and his wife felt 'very comfortable' with the advice they received -- specifically, that it would clearly understood Mrs. Morrow would not be called on to lobby in support of ESCR. 'And under those conditions, which they've held up to, that's what she's done,' he adds."

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