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Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and JDRF Lead Distinguished Group of 2009 “Stem Cell Action” Honorees

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The Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) will honor Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), two leading Michigan stem cell organizations and two patient-advocates who serve on the Maryland Stem Cell Commission at its 5th annual Stem Cell Action Awards dinner on Tuesday, September 22, at the Baltimore Hilton as part of the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.

Here are the 2009 Stem Cell Action honorees:

• Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (National Leadership Award). Since taking office, Governor O’Malley has spearheaded a number of strategic investments in Maryland’s bioscience industry. In addition to creating the Life Science Advisory Board, he has been instrumental in securing funding for bio initiatives, including $59 million over three years for Maryland’s Stem Cell Research Fund, thereby continuing Maryland’s innovative leadership in the burgeoning field of regenerative medicine. He serves as a national example of effective governmental leadership in the field of regenerative medicine.

• The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) (International Advocacy Award). JDRF is the global leader in research leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes. It sets the agenda for type 1 diabetes research, and is the largest charitable funder and advocate of diabetes science worldwide. JDRF has played a historic role in advocating for new federal funding guidelines for stem cell research, and has also directly funded diabetes research into the use of adult, embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells in the pursuit of a cure for diabetes.

• Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures (Education Award). MCSCRC is dedicated to educating the citizens of the State of Michigan, including public officials and policy makers, about the complex science, the biomedical potential and the current policies affecting stem cell research in Michigan. In 3 years the organization engaged in over 300 presentations, 10 radio programs and 11 cable and television shows for a statewide educational program that reached over 2 million citizens throughout the state.

• Cure Michigan (Grassroots Advocacy Award). In 2008, 2.5 million citizens of Michigan voted to protect embryonic stem cell research in the state constitution. Cure Michigan organized this successful ballot initiative campaign and remains Michigan's leader promoting the advancement of state and national embryonic stem cell research and policy.

• Margaret Conn Himelfarb, (Inspiration Award). Margaret, whose son has type 1 diabetes, has worked tirelessly and effectively to promote stem cell research. She founded the coalition Maryland Families for Stem Cell Research and led the statewide grassroots campaign for stem cell research funding. She serves on the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission, the Johns Hopkins Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee, and JDRF’s International Board of Chancellors. A legendary advocate for JDRF, Margaret spearheaded the successful national campaign for a Diabetes Awareness postage stamp.

• John L. Kellermann, III (Inspiration Award). John has courageously battled Parkinson’s disease with his characteristic resilience and courage. He made an important leadership contribution to the grassroots organization Maryland Families for Stem Cell Research. An exemplary and inspiring voice for patients and their families, John testified both in Annapolis and Washington in favor of stem cell research. He serves is a member of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission.

"The Genetics Policy Institute’s Stem Cell Action Awards, presented at the World Stem Cell Summit, honor dedicated individuals and organizations that significantly advance the cause of stem cell research. These honorees are heroes. Their actions bring us closer to the day when scientific discoveries will translate into effective treatments and cures,” said Bernard Siegel, Executive Director of GPI.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm stated, "I congratulate Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures and Cure Michigan for this well-deserved honor. Stem cell sciences are the vanguard of innovation technologies that will spur economic growth in the coming decades and this recognition underscores Michigan's transformation as a biotechnology leader."