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UCI Dean to Direct Funds for Stem Cells

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Times Staff Writer

Susan V. Bryant, dean of the UC Irvine School of Biological Sciences, has been appointed to the citizens board that will govern stem cell research authorized by passage of Proposition 71.

Bryant, a leading limb regeneration researcher, will be one of 29 members appointed to the Independent Citizens Oversight Commission, which will administer $3 billion to fund embryonic stem cell research in California over 10 years.

Bryant, 61, was appointed by UC Irvine Chancellor Ralph J. Cicerone and will serve an eight-year term. She will continue as dean of the School of Biological Sciences.

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She has been at UCI since 1969 and was one of the first women to teach biological sciences at a university in the United States. She gained international acclaim as a pioneer in the development of molecular techniques for studying regeneration, according to UCI.

In a statement released by UCI, Bryant said funding from Proposition 71 does not promise an instant cure for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but brings treatments for these diseases closer to reality.

“It is an honor to be appointed,” Bryant said in the statement. “And it is exciting to be in a position to fund research that holds tremendous promise for people with debilitating diseases.”

Stem cell research supporters say California is poised to take a leading role because the proposition’s passage will attract leading scientists to the state’s universities. But researchers say it might take decades before the benefits of stem cell research are realized.

Approved in the Nov. 2 election, Proposition 71 earmarked money for therapeutic cloning, in which the DNA of an unfertilized egg is replaced with the DNA of an individual, producing stem cells that are a genetic match with the donor.

California’s Proposition 71, which won 59% of the vote, was designed to repudiate President Bush’s decision three years ago to greatly restrict the use of federal money for embryonic stem cell research.

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The research is controversial because the stem cells, which can become any type of cell in the body, are derived from human embryos that are destroyed in the process.

In addition to restricting federal money, Bush has twice backed measures in Congress that would have criminalized one type of embryonic stem cell research.

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