Scientists around the world are scrambling to unlock the potential of stem cells. Governments trying to balance research and ethics have quickly learned that they have little control. Competition for top researchers and private capital is pushing the pace—and punishing those who stumble.
By the time U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration announced its policy on stem cell research in the summer of 2001, Roger Pedersen was already fed up. A top embryo scientist celebrated for deriving many of the human stem cell lines then available to researchers around the world, Pedersen had been struggling with inadequate federal funding for five years. Finally, he decided to abandon his post at the University of California, San Francisco, for the chance to head up a new institute at the University of Cambridge in England. The British government was ready to offer funding and a better regulatory environment. Said Pedersen, “I chose to move to a country that was willing to provide support, broad support, for this research.”