TRENTON – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today approved a bill sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey authorizing the state to seek voter approval to fund $230 million in grants to support long-term stem cell research. Bill S-1091, co-sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), now heads to the full Senate for approval.
“This legislation will provide New Jersey voters with an important opportunity to help shape our values as a state and a society,” said Sen. Codey. “These grants will enable New Jersey to attract some of the world’s best scientists, and their research could ultimately lead to new treatments and cures for life-threatening illnesses like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries. If we are going to play a realistic role in leading the way to some of these cures, then the time to act is now.”
“Stem cell research has the potential to save millions of lives in the future by finding cures to diseases such Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s,” said Sen. Buono. “These funds would allow the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey to attract the world’s best scientists to undertake this research. Today, we are embracing the spirit of hope that stem cell research provides the families of those individuals fighting these debilitating diseases.”
Under the legislation, voters in the November election would be asked to approve a $230 million bond referendum to fund stem cell research grants. The grants would be distributed over seven years. Eligible applicants would include for-profit and non-profit agencies with the requirement that for-profit groups collaborate and partner with non-profit organizations.
To ensure grants are awarded based on science, not politics, the NJ Commission on Science and Technology would establish a research review panel and an ethics advisory panel to thoroughly review all applications and award grants. The ethics advisory panel will be responsible for ensuring state-funded research complies with state ethics guidelines, including the prohibition of human cloning. The referendum would also call for the state to receive a portion of the royalties realized from any break-through research.
While he was governor, Sen. Codey laid out a vision for New Jersey as a leader in the area of stem cell research, given the state’s first-rate research institutions and leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies. This legislation is another step toward realizing the goals Sen. Codey first laid out in his State of the State address in January 2005. Earlier this month, the Senate approved another bill co-sponsored by Sen. Codey and Sen. Buono that would allocate $250 million to fund the infrastructure needed to support cutting-edge research, including a world-class stem cell institute in New Brunswick and two other collaborative facilities in Camden and Newark. The bill approved today would provide eligible applicants with the long-term funding needed to support stem cell research projects that could potentially yield significant medical breakthroughs.