Vatican City, Nov 3, 2012 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Next year the Pontifical Council for Culture and an adult stem cell research foundation will host the second international Vatican conference to discuss regenerative medicine and its implications for culture, ethics and faith.
Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, head of the Science and Faith department at the Pontifical Council for Culture, said it is the council’s mission to explore the cultural impact of new research. It aims to “offer the best tools for pastoral care” and “encourage understanding of changing culture.”
Dr. Robin Smith, President of the U.S.-based Stem for Life Foundation, said Nov. 1 that the conference will educate people of all backgrounds on the potential of adult stem cells to treat chronic disease. It will generate “truly international dialogue” on regenerative medicine and explore the connections between scientific breakthroughs, faith, culture and ethics.
The Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference’s theme is “Regenerative Medicine — A Fundamental Shift in Science & Culture.” It will take place at the Vatican from April 11-13, 2013.
The conference aims to foster dialogue among researchers, physicians, philanthropists, faith leaders and policy makers to identify unmet medical needs that can benefit from the development of stem cell therapies. It also strives to raise awareness about present opportunities in existing therapies and reduce misunderstandings about the field.
Conference speakers include leading adult stem cell scientists and clinicians and thought leaders in faith, ethics, culture and business. Various countries’ health ministers, Holy See ambassadors and regulatory officials will also speak.
Moderators for the event include prominent journalists and commentators like NBC News’ Meredith Vieira, Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal and Dr. Max Gomez of WCBS-TV.
Researchers and clinicians will present the state of adult stem cell research, including the results of investigations into growing replacements for damaged and diseased organs, restoring heart function after heart attacks and growing new skin for burn victims. Adult stem cell advances in cancer therapy, treating traumatic brain injuries and chronic diseases will also be discussed.
Some patients who have undergone adult stem cell therapies will speak about how the research has reduced their suffering.
The conference also aims to lay the foundation for a network of scientists, educators and patrons interested in the potential of adult stem cells.
Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are not derived from the destruction of human embryos.
Msgr. Trafny said the developments in regenerative medicine are “of great interest.” They also cause “deep cultural transformations” in health care, the economy, new technologies and legal issues.
“Thus, topics that apparently seem to be circumscribed only to strictly scientific discussions or theoretical ones, in fact modify our understanding of social dynamics, relationships and, in the ultimate analysis, our understanding of the human being,” he said.
The Stem for Life Foundation, a conference co-sponsor, is the foundation of the international bio-pharmaceutical company NeoStem Inc. The Pontifical Council for Culture is sponsoring the event through its foundation STOQ International, whose name is an acronym for Science Theology and the Ontological Quest.
The conference website is www.adultstemcellconference.org.