By John Jalsevac

HAMILTON, Ontario, June 29, 2007 ( – A Hamilton-area businessman has donated $50 million to McMaster University, a large portion of which will be used to pursue embryonic stem-cell research.

Of the $50 million being donated by David Braley, the owner of a CFL team, $15 million is specifically designated towards what is ambiguously being called an embryonic stem-cell “library.” Another $25 million has been set aside as an endowment fund, a large part of which will also likely be used by the University to pursue the controversial type of research that McMaster is now becoming well-known for.

According to McMaster background information obtained by on the embryonic stem-cell “library”, “The Library will culture the required cell lines, engineer cell lines through a process of ‘knocking down’ individual genes and then analyzing in detail the characteristics, behaviours and interactions of other genes in those cells. These cells, along with the robust datasets of information, will be available to researchers world-wide for their experimental and clinical applications, making McMaster’s Human Embryonic Stem Cell Library a critical foundation to the future of stem cell therapies around the world.”

“David’s $15 million to this is the biggest gift to stem cell research in Canadian history, and it is both important and symbolic,” said John Kelton, the dean of McMaster’s medical school.

In announcing the gift, David Braley also indicated his hope that his gift would galvanize governments and other groups into matching his personal commitment to embryonic stem-cell research. “I see this as seed money that should be amplified by our Government and industry,” he said.

“I am enthusiastic about the commitment to human embryonic stem cells research,” he continued. “It is an investment in our top scientists who will help develop cures for terrible diseases.”

“It’s a bold gift because it’s a politicized area. It’s disappointing for me personally that politics can impact on saving people’s lives,” dean Kelton said about Braley’s gift, according to the Hamilton Spectator. “Human stem cells have become politicized by a very small minority of the population, and that is slowing us down from having cures for catastrophic illnesses.”

Kelton also indicated his belief that McMaster’s stem-cell research will be “absolutely ethical.”

“We would never endanger a gift, or an institution or a scientist by getting into grey areas.”

Elyssia Miller, however, the current Vice-President of the McMaster student pro-life organization LifeLine, questioned the truth of Kelton’s statements about the ethical nature of McMaster’s stem-cell program. “They are already doing something that is entirely unethical,” said Miller. “It’s experimentation on human life, on a human person that has no choice in it. In the process of this research, the embryo is killed.”

Miller also responded to Kelton’s accusation that for a minority embryonic stem-cell research has become a political issue: “I don’t see that as a political thing. It’s a human rights thing. It’s an ethical thing. It’s not political. It’s a matter of what’s right and what’s wrong. To call it political, they’re looking at it the wrong way.”

LifeLine, explained Miller, is “pro-adult or ethical stem-cell research. It’s unfortunate that they’re spending so much money on embryonic stem cell research, when they could be putting the money towards something ethical, towards something that has been finding cures and treatments.”


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