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
The Westchester Institute web site gives a deeper explanation
of the method of direct cell reprogramming at this link.
The Westchester Institute: A Voice
in the Bioethics Debate
|Father Thomas Berg, Executive Director of the Westchester Institute|
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,
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.
|Dr. Robert George|
Spreading the Good News
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
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
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 www.westchesterinstitute.net.
To speak with a representative from Westchester Institute contact Michelle
Gress at firstname.lastname@example.org.