On Monday, President Barack Obama overturned a 2001 ban on embryonic stem cell research that former President George W. Bush instituted on 21 stem cell lines. This means federal money can now go toward research on these lines. And in light of the passage of last year’s Proposal 2 in Michigan — which permits embryos discarded from fertility clinics to be researched — the University recently announced a new stem cell research program. These are encouraging developments for scientists who wish to remain competitive in their field while collaborating in an effort to cure disease, not just in Michigan but across the country. Michigan should take advantage of the new policies, bringing much-needed research and money to the state while saving lives in the process.

On Election Day, Michigan overturned a 1978 law that banned the destruction of embryos. State scientists can now use embryos that would otherwise have been discarded from fertility clinics to derive their own lines. The University also announced Monday that it’s beginning its stem cell research program thanks to the easing of restrictions. It has set aside $2 million to hire scientists and lab technicians for the new Consortium for Stem Cell Research, a part of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

Obama’s decision shows a distinct policy difference between his administration and his predecessor’s — a welcome change for communities like the University that thrive on research. Embryonic stem cells have advantages that no other cells have, like the potential to form any kind of cell, allowing them to be manipulated easily and for cures to be developed. Stem cell research is a crucial research that will save lives — scientists generally believe that embryonic stem cell research can lead to cures for diseases like juvenile diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Now that restrictions on research have been lifted, scientists at the University and in the state can be competitive with scientists around the country and worldwide, developing cures to diseases that effect millions of lives.

This competition will help bring researchers and money to Michigan as well as allow for more scientists to collaborate on research. The University has a stem cell research lab at the University of California at San Diego, and now scientists can do the same research here, doubling the efforts and pooling resources across the country. This will also bring in more private donations as well as even more federal funding. Increasing stem cell research here is good for the state because it helps establish the University as a premier research institution, in turn boosting the state’s economy.

Despite the controversy surrounding the destruction of embryos, this development will benefit the economy while working toward solutions for sick and suffering people. Obama’s decision shows that his administration is separating ideology from the practicality of research, something the Bush administration failed to do. The benefits of embryonic stem cell research are undeniable, and scientists from around the country will now be able to make something of its potential.

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