FOX47 NEWS - Stem Cell Experts Meet in Madison

Jeff Angileri
Sep 21, 2008, 6:22 PM

More than 800 people are expected to meet in Madison for the World Stem Cell Summit.

One attendee is turning a personal tragedy into advocacy for medical research and treatment.

Indy Car racer Sam Schmidt's life changed forever when he suffered a crash 8 years ago. The accident left him paralyzed from his chest down.

All of these adverse affects of my life--the family dealing with it, the economic distress, and everything else is the same as everyone who has to go through this, said Schmidt.

He's is now a spinal cord injury ambassador visiting Madison, showing his support for stem cell research, which he hopes to take to the next level.

I'm basically sick and tired of seeing rats walk, and we need to move from that as quickly and safely as possible to human clinical trials, Schmidt said.

That represents the discovery the root cause of disease, it can be used as a tool for drug discovery, and one day cell therapies rather that drugs and surgery to replace damaged tissues and organs, said Bernard Seigel, executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute.

To do that, organizers say, will take unity among the medical community.

Seigel said, The researches need to work with the funders, the funders need to understand the research and realize that often, funding comes from the bottom up

That means regular citizens using their voting power to help fund stem cell research.

I encourage people just to get educated, said Scmidt. So many people are misinformed and don't have the proper information. Especially, with the elections coming up in a matter of weeks. Millions of people can be positively affected by the research that's being done here.

The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation funds scientific research, provides college scholarships to people with spinal cord injuries, and helps them get back into the workforce.

The World Stem Cell Summit runs through Tuesday, and is open to anyone.

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