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Setting the Record Straight: Hybrid Embryo Research

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The MRC recognises the importance of stem cell research and actively encourages applications to a dedicated funding committee. But our focus remains on funding the highest quality science applications. Stem cell research now receives more funding than ever before from the Medical Research Council (MRC) - over £25.5 million in 2007/8. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) also funded stem cell research to the tune of £13 million in 2007/08.

Every application received by the MRC is subject to a review process which assesses it for both quality and excellence, to ensure that the science the MRC funds is of the highest standard. This process is extremely rigorous and guarantees that all funded proposals are of an internationally competitive standard.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the MRC, said:

“The MRC makes the best use of taxpayers' money and there is no better way to determine what should be funded than to use the ‘gold standard’ peer review system where scientists assess applications on their merits. This system rules out the possibility of a personal or moral view influencing the final outcome of a proposal.”
The motive behind British scientist Professor Justin St-John’s move from the University of Warwick to a new job in Monash University was reported as a result of lack of funding in this area. Professor St John gives a different picture in his full quote:

“I am moving to Monash University in Melbourne because it's a world class university for the study of reproduction, development and stem cells and they have offered me a job.  I believe it's a place where my work on mitochondrial DNA transmission will flourish. There will be an opportunity to do large animal work to answer the bigger questions about how to develop assisted reproductive technologies to prevent transmission of mutated mitochondrial DNA from one generation to the next.  There are a lot of studies in mice, but this work now needs to be carried out in larger animal models.
The MRC funded me to make mouse-pig hybrids and I am grateful to them for their support for my work.  Hybrid work will continue in the UK. However my hybrid work was a spin off from my main research interest which I will be pursuing at Monash."
Detailed information about the stem cell research funded by the MRC, and its benefits to society, is available on the MRC website.

Link to stem cell achievements page