PR: Challenge to UCC President

PR: Experts Challenge to UCC President


Irish and international experts will issue a challenge to UCC President, Dr Michael Murphy, to debate the “ethics and validity” of embarking on research on human embryonic stem cell lines. The proposed debate will take place at a major seminar on Stem Cells and Ethics in Science in UCC on February 17th. Dr Deirdre Madden, a lecturer at the college who has been the driving force behind proposals to begin research on human embryos in Ireland, will also be asked to take part in the debate.

Special guest speakers at the seminar will include experts from Ireland, Europe and the US. Amongst them will be Wesley Smith, the award-winning author and ethicist who champions ethical adult stem cell research and strongly opposes research on human embryos. 

He lists his occupation as “trouble-maker” on his blog (, and is a lively and much-sought after debater and commentator. (See more on Wesley Smith below). Mr Smith will arrive in Ireland in the week before the seminar and is available for interview/comment. Also available is Dr David Prentice, an internationally-recognized expert on stem cells and cloning and a wonderful pro-life scientist, who was selected by the U.S. President's Council on Bioethics to write their comprehensive review of ethical adult stem cell research. His defense of Adult Stem Cell Treatments with extensive literature documentation was published by Science in January 2007.

The seminar is being organised by Youth Defence in collaboration with Students for Life in UCC and will coincide with a billboard and leaflet campaign which hopes to swamp Cork with information raising public awareness regarding research on human embryos. In particular, the campaign will emphasise that research on human embryos have not produced one cure, while treatments for more than 70 conditions have been successfully developed using adult stem cells.

Last October the governing body of University College Cork voted by 16 to 15 to effectively allow embryonic stem cell research. The decision was described as “deplorable and illogical” by Youth Defence at the time.

An invitation to the seminar will be issued to the Minister Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe, who is also a local TD for Cork North West. .


Notes for editors/producers

Wesley Smith

Award winning author Wesley J. Smith is a special consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture. In May 2004, because of his work in bioethics, he was named by the National Journal as one of the nation’s top expert thinkers in bioengineering. In 2008, the Human Life Foundation named him a Great Defender of Life for his work against assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Smith left the full time practice of law in 1985 to pursue a career in writing and public advocacy. He is the author or coauthor of eleven books.

His book Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and the New Duty to Die (1997, Times Books), a broad-based criticism of the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement has become a classic in anti-euthanasia advocacy and is now in its third edition published by Encounter Books in 2006. Smith’s Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America, a warning about the dangers of the modern bioethics movement, was named one of the Ten Outstanding Books of the Year and Best Health Book of the Year for 2001 (Independent Publisher Book Awards).

Smith’s most recently published book is Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World, in which he explores the morality, science, and business aspects of human cloning, stem cell research, and genetic engineering.

He formerly collaborated with Ralph Nader, co-authoring four books with consumer advocate.

Smith has published hundreds of articles and opinion columns on issues such as the importance of being human (human exceptionalism), assisted suicide, bioethics, the morality of human cloning, legal ethics, and public affairs. His writing has appeared nationally and internationally, including in Newsweek, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Age (Australia), Western Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Bioethics. He has also been published in regional publications throughout the nation and internationally in newspapers in the UK, Italy, Australia, and Canada.

Throughout his career in public advocacy, Smith has appeared on well over a thousand television and radio talk/interview programs, including such national programs as ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, CNN Crossfire, CNN World Report, the CBS Evening News, Coast to Coast, the Dennis Prager syndicated radio show, the Mike Gallagher syndicated radio show, Afternoons with Al Kresta, EWTN, CSPAN-Book TV, Fox News Channel, and CNN Talk Back Live. He has appeared internationally on Voice of America, CNN International, and programs originating in Great Britain (BBC), Australia (ABC), Canada (CBC), New Zealand, Germany, China, and Mexico.

Smith is often called upon by members of legislative and executive branches of government to advise on issues within his fields of expertise. He has testified as an expert witness in front of federal and state legislative committees, and has counseled government leaders internationally about matters of mutual concern.

Smith is an international lecturer and public speaker, appearing frequently at political, university, medical, legal, disability rights, bioethics, religious, and community gatherings across the United States, Europe, Canada, South Africa, and Australia.

David Prentice

Dr. David Prentice is Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at Family Research Council. Up to July 2004 he had spent almost 20 years as Professor of Life Sciences, Indiana State University, and Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine.

He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas, and was at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Texas Medical School-Houston before joining Indiana State University, where he served as Acting Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Assistant Chair of Life Sciences, and was recognized with the University's Distinguished Teaching Award and Distinguished Service Award.

He is a Founding Member of Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, a Fellow of the Wilberforce Forum Council for Biotechnology Policy, a Fellow of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future, and an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.

He received the 2007 Walter C. Randall Award in Biomedical Ethics from the American Physiological Society, given for promoting the honor and integrity of biomedical science through example and mentoring in the classroom and laboratory

His research interests encompass aspects of cell growth; one major focus is adult stem cells. Dr. Prentice is an internationally-recognized expert on stem cells and cloning, and has testified before the U.S. Congress, numerous state legislatures, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the President's Council on Bioethics, European Parliament, British Parliament, Canadian Parliament, Australian Parliament, German Bundestag, French Senate, Swedish Parliament, the Vatican, and the United Nations.

Dr. Prentice was selected by the U.S. President's Council on Bioethics to write their comprehensive review of adult stem cell research. His defense of Adult Stem Cell Treatments with extensive literature documentation was published by Science in January 2007.

For further information, please contact Katie on 01 8730463


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