Stem Cell Research

In 2000, there was growing excitement in the scientific community over the potential of stem cell research to unlock the doors to treatments and cures for multiple chronic diseases.  But during the presidential campaign that year, Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush vowed to ban stem cell research if he was elected.  So after his victory, advocates for stem cell research feared that this exceptionally promising field would be shut down.

One organization that understood the potential for stem cell research was the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (now JDRF), the largest private sector funder of research to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes. With key Bush supporters pushing hard for a ban on the field, Larry Soler, head of JDRF’s advocacy office in Washington, DC, began looking for a way to create a political force to preserve federal support for stem cell science.

Soler understood that success would require a multi-faceted campaign uniting and leveraging the shared political strength of stem cell research supporters.  To that end, he brought together 100 national organizations to form the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR). Under Soler’s Chairmanship, CAMR, launched an educational and grassroots campaign to raise the profile of the issue in the media, and persuade the Administration and Members of Congress that continuing stem cell research was critical to making progress against life-threatening and debilitating diseases.

CAMR’s aggressive campaign transformed what had been an obscure scientific issue into a front page, high stakes, defining national issue for the new Administration.  As a direct result of CAMR’s impact, President Bush abandoned his plan to ban federally-funded stem cell research in favor of a more moderate stance permitting some of the research to move forward.  In fact, President Bush used his first national prime time address to the American people to announce his partial support for this critical emerging field of research.

Soler later played a leading role in twice passing legislation through a Republican Congress overturning the remaining restrictions President Bush had imposed.  In 2009 President Obama issued an executive order to permit the research with no restrictions, an outcome made possible by the work Soler had started eight years earlier.


Contact Us to Learn More About Turning Your Passion Into Impact