Friday, June 29, 2007

Stem Cell Labs as Targets

Let's make it easy for stem cell advocates/objectors to find their local scientist/target! It will be really easy with Stem Cell Labs on the Globe, a Google Maps application that will identify all of the stem cell labs around the country. Initiated at my new favorite blog Pimm, this resource could develop into something really useful. Just the other day I was trying to figure out how many human embryonic stem cell lines had been derived after August 9, 2001. This would help me track down contacts to gather that information. Students could track down locations for graduate schools or post-docs, and local journalists and politicians could easily track down expert resources via phone or the internet. To see the current version, follow this link or click on Pimm's image below.

A question for my colleagues: I have emailed Pimm to add our ISCRM to the map - should we list our location?


Drugmonkey said...

Please check with heads of labs before you submit them. You may think it amusing to consider the "objectors" and their "targets". But if you think for half a second about the animal rights nuts and how they behave. And the fact that it is the religiously-motivated anti-abortion terrorists who have actually killed people, well, this may not be a good idea.

just a thought.

thomas said...

Your comment is valid, and I would certainly not post anything without speaking with my advisor(s). Don't you think there are much easier ways to find out that we do stem cell and animal work here than this one? Most notably, this information can be found (on a rotating basis) at our university's front web page, from our local media, and the sign on the street that says "Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine." Our lab has already received a (non-threatening) postcard indicating one man's belief that what we are doing is wrong.

Isn't this part of the conversation with society?

I do not mean to imply that the threat is not real - 6 years ago ELF firebombed a UW lab and offices of a professor working with genetically modified crops. These terrorists were only recently apprehended. The faculty subsequently moved into the technical communications department.

Stem cell research is irrevocably linked to the abortion debate, but my sense (I use sense intentionally, because I do not have any data on this) is that the opposition is not so ardent as the crowd that pursues women's clinics.

Do you know of any stem cell labs being picketed?

Drugmonkey said...

I think you credit the nutcases for more smarts and planning than they actually have. There are labs that are targeted habitually and ones that are not. Yet every lab is about equally "findable" from the scientific literature, which is your point I think.

Why do anything to draw specific attention? This is some peoples' perspective and why I'd suggested it is wise to check with the head of a lab, not just for your consumption but for others as well.

Now, there is, of course, an interesting debate as to whether it is best to hide from the stem cell nuts or just take them on straight from the start. I would say that the animal rights terrorist thing suggests that it was a mistake to hide so much during the 80's and 90's. On the other hand one needs to be VERY thoughtful about what you are willing to risk for principle.

thomas said...


Did you see Dr. Free-Ride's most recent post? She must have somehow intercepted our communications between Seattle and San Diego!

I put up a response that should interest you as soon as she clears it.

Drugmonkey said...

The "intersection" of the radical anti-abortion type stemcell objectors (assuming there will be some of these) with ALF type terrorists would be an interesting thing. I mean, the former are generally behind the whole "God made animals for us to exploit", right? Nevertheless, you never know when "enemy of my enemy" is going to hold sway...

Should be dangerous since up 'til now anyway the ALF types talk big, attack property and terrorize but haven't killed anyone to my knowledge. probably because they tend toward the personally cowardly- notice how they are happy to release rabbits and rats and birds into random fields but never seem to screw with releasing rhesus monkeys or baboons! (I'd like to see the video on that). also, they are possibly a bit more disingenuous, note the whining apologies from those ones receiving jail sentences lately "oh, we didn't realize this was real adult life you see!".

but the people who shoot abortion doctors, well, that's a whole 'nother level of batshit crazy not carin' about consequences...