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Statement from UM Interim President Lamb regarding proposed anti-research constitutional amendment


Christian Basi

September 07, 2007

Contact: Jennifer Hollingshead

Office: (573) 882-0601

E-mail: hollingsheadj@umsystem.edu

temp_file_DR-LAMB-5.jpgThe Cures without Cloning Amendment initiative states that "no taxpayer dollars should be used to research or experiment using a human organism or any part of a human organism derived from cloning or attempting to clone a human being." This amendment assaults Missouri and Missouri's primary public research university, the University of Missouri.

In their effort to eliminate somatic cell nuclear transfer research, the group championing this amendment is taking the first step to controlling and impeding Missouri's research agenda and potential for future research. And they are doing so in a way that could permanently destroy the future of research in the state and in its universities.

The research being done at the University of Missouri and being planned for the future neither creates life, as the amendment initiative alleges, nor takes the next step of introducing life into a woman's womb. Instead, the research is a small but critical part of life sciences research that has the potential to give life to people who have serious life-threatening diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson's, ALS and others, including devastating spinal injuries.

Research is a core mission of the university. Through our research, we explore many avenues of discovery from optical implants that may give vision to the blind, social research to create better living environments, artistic research and creative activities, assistance to businesses to help our citizens, and other research that affects every area of study and life.

Another mission is teaching, and we, long ago, protected the teaching environment from an intrusion similar to this current intrusion into our research activities. Academic freedom - the freedom to teach approved subjects in the manner best determined by the professor - protects us from destructive intrusion that would jeopardize the education of our students. Though any of us may take issue, from time to time, with the manner of teaching or the subject of a class discussion, we understand that the latitude given to faculty is important in the search for truth and the ability of faculty to lead students to a critical awareness and understanding of the subject.

Research must have the same protection, a protection from the few who, seeking to reinforce their own personal biases, would shut down research done by highly competent and dedicated scientists.

The university should never be subjected to this type of intrusion and control. It is antithetical to the principles on which the university as a whole is founded, and on which the University of Missouri was founded. This amendment initiative should be rejected.