Duncan urges Ehrlich to fund stem cell studies

October 28, 2005|By JENNIFER SKALKA | JENNIFER SKALKA,SUN REPORTER

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan called on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday to commit state money to stem cell research, not a research facility.

"Marylanders who are struggling with terminal disease don't have the luxury of waiting years for a building," said Duncan, a Democratic candidate for governor, during a speech at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Duncan, who addressed about 100 people during the school's regular lecture series, said Maryland is losing key talent - one Hopkins researcher took a job recently in California - and possible investments from biotechnology companies because the state hasn't allocated money for stem cell research.

"We can't afford to waste our time and resources on empty political gestures," Duncan said.

Lacking support from the governor, the state Senate let a bill die last session that would have committed $25 million annually to research. Advocates of that proposal, which Duncan said yesterday that he supports, have vowed to push for a comparable package this session.

The governor, meanwhile, has floated his support for a university research building.

"I'm here to tell him that we're not going to stop pushing until he funds the science," Curt I. Civin, a physician and professor of cancer research at Johns Hopkins, said after Duncan's speech.

Henry Fawell, an Ehrlich spokesman, said the governor will make an announcement "in the near future" about his stem cell proposal, but Fawell would not provide specifics.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor, said he supports money for stem cell research.

"Maryland cannot afford to fall behind on the promise and hope that stem cell research brings to so many families," O'Malley said in a statement provided by his campaign. "Mr. Duncan and I share the same commitment to moving our state forward on this issue."

jennifer.skalka@baltsun.com

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