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Vatican Calls Off Stem-Cell Conference

from Nature News

The Vatican has abruptly cancelled a controversial stem-cell conference that was set to be attended by the Pope next month.

The Third International Congress on Responsible Stem Cell Research, scheduled for 25-28 April, was to focus on clinical applications of adult and reprogrammed stem cells. But a number of the invited speakers, including Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in San Francisco, and keynote speaker George Daley, a stem-cell scientist at Children's Hospital Boston in Massachusetts, are involved in research using human embryonic stem cells, which the Catholic Church considers unethical.

The previous two congresses had also included scientists who worked on such cells, without generating much controversy. Father Scott Borgman, secretary of the Church's Pontifical Academy for Life, one of the conference organizers, says that logistical, organizational and financial factors forced the cancellation, which was announced on 23 March.

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