Letter to the Ottawa Health Research Institute

Tuesday, 19 December 2006
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Board of Directors of the Ottawa Health Research Institute
c/o Dr. Ronald G. Worton
CEO and Scientific Director
Ottawa Health Research Institute
725 Parkdale Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K1Y 4E9

Dear Members of the Board:

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) would like to congratulate you on the recent opening of the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research.

One of the main motivations for stem cell research is the suffering of people with debilitating illnesses and handicaps. It is heartening to see the dedication of scientists and the efforts they are willing to make in the hopes of comforting and curing those who are affected.

Because it has already successfully treated over 70 diseases and conditions, research on adult stem cells offers great hope and promise. It has helped patients with Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, those with heart conditions, spinal cord injuries, lupus, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, leukemia and other cancers. Therapies are being developed for arthritis and diabetes, and national media recently reported that adult stem cells have helped to cure incontinence. The list goes on.

By contrast, after nearly a decade of research, embryonic stem cells have not yet produced a single cure or treatment for human beings. As you know, they continue to be far too dangerous to test on humans, as they often cause tumors when injected into animals.

But even if embryonic stem cell research held much promise, the question becomes whether we are prepared to harm some humans in order to help others. Any embryology textbook will tell us that from the very moment of fertilization the embryo is a living, developing human being with a complete and unique DNA. Extracting stem cells from these embryonic human beings causes their death.

As Members of the Board of Directors of the OHRI, you surely want to see the Sprott Centre achieve excellence on the cutting edge of stem cell research. Yet most will agree that the desire for scientific success continues to need temperance by considerations of ethics. When science loses its conscience and does not respect human life, the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of the human person are endangered.

We thus commend the Sprott Centre for avoiding embryonic stem cell research in its initial projects, and we strongly urge you to continue on that path which respects the first of all human rights, the right to life.


†Bishop Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B
Chairman of the Board
Catholic Organization for Life and Family

cc. Eric Sprott, Chairman, Sprott Securities Inc.
Dr. Michael Rudnicki, Director, Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research