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whatever you do, don't mention the science

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 25, 2010

Regarding the legal case that prompted Judge Royce Lamberth to block federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, the Los Angeles Times wants readers to know that the two lead plaintiffs have been involved in other controversies. James Sherley was involved in a tenure battle at MIT. Theresa Deisher charged that she was harassed by colleagues when she worked as vice-president of the CellCyte Genetics Corporation.

Hmmm. An MIT professor? The vice-president for research at a genetics firm? These aren’t your run-of-the-mill Luddites, are they? Between them the two scientists have degrees from Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and Stanford. Deisher holds 23 patents. Sherley won the Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health. Deisher was principal scientist at Immunix. These are heavy-duty research scientists, and their lawsuit centered on their desire to have a fair chance at grants that would underwrite still more research.

In declarations they submitted with the lawsuit, the two claimed that awarding federal funds for research on embryonic stem cells necessarily restricted the amount of funds available for their research on so-called induced pluripotent stem cells — that is, adult cells that can be rewound to an almost embryonic state.

But that’s as far as the LA Times story goes. We never learn more about the reseach that Sherley and Deisher have done, or what they hope to do. Instead we learn about the controversies in which they have been involved, and—of course—their religious beliefs.

Sherley and Deisher, the Times tells us, are “perhaps better known for their extracurricular activities than for their scientific feats.” Yes, and if the Times coverage is any indication, it will remain that way. 

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