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Helping Mediate a Cinderella Moment
Westchester Institute Contributes to Pro-Life Victory in Bioethical Field

westchester ethics

New York City, December 4, 2007. The world of science and the culture of life are enjoying what Fr Berg, LC of the Westchester Institute calls a “Cinderella moment” with a new development in the field of bioethics: a morally acceptable and scientifically promising alternative to cloning and embryonic stem cell research has been discovered and proven feasible.

This is a major step forward for both pro-lifers and scientists, and it is of utmost importance to spread the word through the mass media. Father Thomas Berg, LC and the Westchester Institute, are doing just that: on the brink of breaking news, they are capturing the moment by using the media to promote this ethically uncontroversial research alternative.

Direct Cell Reprogramming: A Morally Acceptable Alternative to Cloning
The direct cell reprogramming method, discovered by Professor Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan and Professor James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, can take any cell in the human body and turn it into a “pluripotent cell” with all the versatility of an embryonic stem cell. This means that there is no longer any need to clone and harvest human embryos for their stem cells, since a mere skin cell could hold the key to curing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to the moral benefits, a medical advantage to this approach is that these cells will not be rejected by the patient’s immune system, since they come from his own body.  Admittedly, most dramatic clinical applications of direct cell reprogramming still lie years down the road (as is also the case with embryonic stem cell research), but now there is an ethically sound way forward.

The Westchester Institute web site gives a deeper explanation of the method of direct cell reprogramming at this link.

The Westchester Institute: A Voice
Father Thomas Berg, Executive Director of the Westchester Institute
Father Thomas Berg, Executive Director of the Westchester Institute
in the Bioethics Debate

If it hadn’t been for persistent voices calling for this alternative method, it would not have been so aggressively pursued as a viable alternative to cloning. Some of these voices were the organized groups of recognized medical, scientific, and bioethical leaders—including the Westchester Institute, directed by Father Thomas Berg, LC.

Founded in 1998, the Institute’s purpose is to “promote the Western tradition of moral reflection” on contemporary moral issues, as well as philosophical and public policy issues.  Its interdisciplinary approach brings together experts from a wide range of fields, and puts them into contact and discussion with each other. This means that when the Westchester Institute speaks on a particular issue, it does so with the perspective of recognized leaders from many specializations, from philosophy, law, and ethics to biology, chemistry, and medicine.

The Westchester Institute has been hard at work in the battle to promote alternatives to embryo destructive research.  On several occasions it has gathered recognized scientific, medical,
Dr. Robert George
Dr. Robert George
legal, and religious leaders to sign joint statements rejecting human cloning and endorsing alternative methods.  Additionally, the Institute has hosted several Scholars Forums (moderated by Dr. Robert George, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics) devoted to discussion of the status of the human embryo and ethical evaluation of alternatives to embryo-destructive research.

Spreading the Good News
Yet, one of the most significant means of effecting (and perpetuating) positive change has been through the mass media, which both creates and shapes public awareness about current events. Father Berg and
wall street
the Senior Fellows of the Westchester Institute have built up a presence in the mass media through their articles in a wide variety of publications.  After the direct cell reprogramming breakthrough, Senior Fellows Dr. Markus Grompe and Dr. Maureen Condic published an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal. Since the WSJ is one of the leading newspapers in the nation, the breaking-news story was picked up and echoed nationwide.  Additionally, two Associated Press stories citing the Institute’s perspective were used as sources for hundreds of newspapers, helping the new breakthrough hit headlines all over the globe.

For Father Berg and the Westchester Institute team, the breakthrough in direct cell reprogramming is a thrilling event. Thanks to their timely response, they were able to make the most of the moment and get the story out to news sources worldwide, while simultaneously positioning themselves to have an even greater impact in the future.  No doubt this significant pro-life victory is just one among many more to come.
More information: Useful links and additional background documents are available at  To speak with a representative from Westchester Institute contact Michelle Gress at



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