Archive for November, 2012


By Don C. Reed

Two scientists’ beaming faces recently adorned a press release:

 “New cell type developed for possible treatment of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases”.–http://today.uci.edu/…

Why are they smiling– and what should we be worried about?

First, the good news. Using embryonic stem cells, California’s Edwin Monuki and Momoko Watanabe   may have found a way to answer Alzheimer’s disease. As you know, Alzheimer’s involves plaques and tangles in the brain, studded throughout the brain like raisins in oatmeal. If these plaques could be removed, it might help heal the devastating disease of memory loss, as well as perhaps easing Huntington’s disease and other neurological nightmares.

Alzheimer’s affects 4.5 million Americans today. A brutal condition, removing both memory and judgment from the sufferer, the financial costs are almost unbelievable, a staggering two hundred billion dollars a year… https://www.alz.org/…

How might cure work?

In a healthy brain, cerebrospinal fluid  (CSF) washes away the metabolic wastes which would otherwise become the plaques of Alzheimer’s; in addition, CSF “produce(s) many nutritive molecules…good things for the brain.”

And where does this cleansing and re-vivifying fluid come from?

   “…the choroid plexus… tissue in the brain…produces cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

And if the choroid plexus goes wrong?

“In Alzheimer’s… the choroid plexus (may) age prematurely, resulting in….decreased ability to flush out such debris as the plaque-forming proteins…of Alzheimer’s.”–personal communication, Ed Monuki -emonuki@uci.edu

To fix a non-working choroid plexus, it seems you need repair cells called the “choroid plexus epithelial cells” or CPECs.

“…For the first time we can use stem cells to…(make)… large amounts of (CPECs), … to treat neurodegenerative diseases,” said Monuki….

 “These cells could be part of… disease treatments in at least three ways:

•    ….first… to flush out plaque-causing proteins from brain tissue, and limit disease progression;
•    Second, CPEC(s)….could transport therapeutic compounds to the…brain and spinal cord;
•    Third, the cells could be used to screen…drugs that….improve function.”

Dr. Monuki is a creative individual. He invented a new Petri dish on a grant from California’s Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, the law named after my paralyzed son. The Monuki petri dish can separate cells by their electrical potential, a job presently done by an expensive machine so big you have to rent it.

Ms. Watanabe is a graduate student with what would have to be described as an amazing future. The University of California at Irvine, and the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell
Research Center should take great pride in their accomplishments.

All good so far?

Now the problem: the project was only possible because of government funding: vital to scientists as air is to a deep-sea diver. Without grants, no work can be done.

Unfortunately, the threat of massive cuts hangs over the National Institutes of Health–America’s crown jewel of medical research.

It would be a tragedy if right now, just when we are starting to break through toward therapies for cures, that we should be blocked for lack of funds.

Want to help?

Here is Mary Wooley, the CEO of the non-partisan group Research!America with some thoughts on what you can do.  

“Research could be put on hold if we the stakeholder community allow ourselves to be ignored or taken for granted by a lame-duck congress as it wrestles with averting the fiscal cliff.  Massive cuts to federal research agencies could have devastating consequences.

“Accordingly, this week we began a “Save the Research!” campaign here in Washington with many partners in the science and patient community.

“We need cures not cuts! We are funding ads, and making visits, 60 visits yesterday.

“Research is a bi-partisan priority, but it is just not brought to the forefront sufficiently. Now is the time to do it.

“Visit our website and find out how you can make the difference.  


“The single most important thing you can do? Contact your own elected officials.

“Visit the website and sign on to the group letter of support, and do an easily clickable outreach to your elected officials.”  Mary Wooley, personal communication. (for verification contact  info@researchamerica.org
For media queries, contact Suzanne Ffolkes, 571.482.2710)

Think of it this way: if just one chronic disease costs America $200 billion, what is the price of all them put together?

I can’t even count that high.

But the Kaiser Medical Foundation estimates that in 2010, total health care cost America $2.3 trillion–of which 75% went to chronic (incurable) disease.


We can either pony up the funds to pay for research–or watch our country go broke trying to pay impossible mountains  of medical cost.

Our choice, as Shakespeare said, (is) “to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.”

Cure, or endure–and I am sick of enduring. My son Roman Reed has been paralyzed 18 years, since a football accident in 1994. I want to see him walk again, and close his fingers, and enjoy all the small luxuries of motion we take for granted.

The money Washington allocates to research funding will affect not only Roman’s fate, but that of approximately 109 million Americans with chronic conditions.– http://www.milkeninstitute.org/…

Don’t let a lame duck session of Congress do damage to our hopes for cure.

Read Full Post »

A BRIGHTER DAY: Stem Cell Elections in 2012

By Don C. Reed


2012 was a banner year for the cause of cure.

First among our stem cell electoral victories was the re-election of President Barack Obama. The impact of a pro-science president cannot be overestimated. In Obama we have both a man who can reason with facts (instead of blind ideology), but who also has the strength to stand by a decision. Obama took his stand on stem cells before the 2008 election — and has never wavered in that support.

In the Senate, there were 14 races crucial to the advancement of regenerative medicine; we won 12. Even in the Republican-dominated House, where political redistricting and Super PAC money warped the process, still we had more wins than losses.

Sadly, the opposition was almost entirely Republican.

It is to be hoped that the Grand Old Party will rethink its position on stem cells.

Republicans were once friends of scientific research; they should be so again. Think of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Ford — all strong supporters of science. Lincoln owned a patent on a scientific invention (a way to lift riverboats upstream); Eisenhower had a math and science program named after him, and Gerald Ford gave his personal endorsement to advanced stem cell research.

But for Republicans to call for a ban on embryonic stem cell research, both public and private?

That was shameful. As any student of research can verify, embryonic stem cells are made from microscopic blastocysts (fertilized eggs) left over from in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures — and only after the decision has been made to discard the cells as medical waste. Would it not be better to try to use the cells to try and ease suffering?

For Democrats, backing the president’s moderate stance on stem cells is both right and natural, like supporting the Defense Department: Both are intended to protect the lives and well-being of our citizens. America is right to fund stem cell therapies for cures — to ease suffering, save lives, and reduce our mountain of medical debt.

Because stem cell research is backed by nearly 3/4 of the American public, it is increasingly foolish (as well as nonsensical) to vote against it.

Accordingly, some anti-research Republicans hide their position, by simply not listing it on their websites.

But an incumbent’s voting record can be checked. For example, no friend of research could vote against the very moderate Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, offered twice in 2005 and 2007, passing House and Senate both times — before being vetoed by then-President George Bush.

New candidates of course have no voting records, but if they accept the endorsements of ideological groups opposing the research, that is an indicator of their stance.

Also, anyone who supports “personhood” is locked into an anti-research position. Personhood is the bizarre belief that fertilized eggs deserve full legal standing in a court of law. Enacted into law, personhood could overturn a woman’s right to choose, various forms of birth control, embryonic stem cell research — even IVF procedure itself.

On that basis, here are what I consider the 2012 losses and wins of stem cell contests.



Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D) was narrowly defeated by Jeff Flake (R). But Carmona went from far behind to very nearly defeating Flake.


Research supporter Bob Kerrey (D) was defeated by research opponent Deb Fischer (R). Kerry began 18 points down (having lived out of state for a decade) but nearly pulled off an upset, ending just three points below research opponent Fischer.



WIN: Patrick Murphy, (D) founder of his state’s stem cell program, defeated multi-millionaire opponent Linda McMahon (R).


Elizabeth Warren (D) defeated Scott Brown (R).


Debra Stabenow (D) defeated Pete Hoekstra (R).


Amy Klobuchar (D) defeated Kurt Bills (R).


Claire McCaskill (D) defeated Todd “legitimate rape” Akin (R), a personhood supporter. (He and defeated vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan who co-sponsored a personhood bill.)


Jon Tester (D) defeated Dennis Rehberg (R).

New Jersey:

Robert Menendez (D) defeated Joe Kyrillos (R).

New York:

Kirsten Gillibrand (D) overwhelmingly defeated research opponent Wendy Long (R).

North Dakota:

Heidi Heitkamp (D) defeated personhood proponent Rick Berg (R).


Sherrod Brown (D) defeated Super PAC-backed Josh Mandel (R).


Tim Kaine (D) defeated George Allen (R), a personhood supporter.


Tammy Baldwin (D) overcame embryonic stem cell research opponentTommy Thompson (R).


Joe Mikloski (D) lost to personhood supporter Mike Coffman (R).


Val Demings (D) (star of the future) lost to Dan Webster (R).


Leonard Boswell (D) lost to Tom Latham (R).

Indiana :

Christie Vilsack (D) lost to Steve King (R).


Gary McDowell (D) lost to Dan Benishek (R).


Mike Obermueller (D) lost to John Kline (R).


John Oceguera (D) lost to Joe Heck (R)


Joyce Healy-Abrams (D) lost to Bob Gibbs (R).


Betty Sutton (D) lost to Jim Renacci (R).


Ann Kirkpatrick (D) defeated Jonathan Paton (R).


Ami Bera (D) is winning (so far!) in the seemingly endless vote count against Republican Dan Lungren (R), vehement opponent of the research.


Julia Brownley (D) defeated Tony Strickland (R). This is a doubly satisfying result for me. Strickland not only opposed embryonic stem cell research, but also voted against funding the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, the law named after my paralyzed son. I wish Mr. Strickland a well-deserved retirement.


Ed Perlmutter (D) defeated beer magnate Joe Coors (R), a personhood supporter.


Patrick Murphy (D) appears to have defeated Allen West (R) — but Mr. West has demanded a recount, which is currently ongoing.


Research supporter Lois Frankel (D) defeated Adam Hasner (R).


Tim Walz (D) defeated Allen Quist (R). Mr. Quist, reportedly a mentor to Michele Bachmann, opines that dinosaurs and people lived together on the planet, and that women are biologically designed to be submissive.


Rick Nolan (D) defeated Chip Cravaack (R).

New Hampshire:

Carol Shea-Porter (D) defeated Frank Guinta (R).

New Mexico:

Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) defeated Janice Arnold-Jones (R).


Pete Gallego (D) over Francisco Canseco (R).

Every voter with a disability should take pride in our country’s decision. Every family with a loved one suffering chronic disease should feel relief; we dodged a bullet. The wrong people in office now could have delayed cure therapies for generations.

Tomorrow is brighter for the outcomes of one day: Nov. 6, 2012.

Follow Don C. Reed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/diverdonreed


Read Full Post »


Can you drive your aunt to the polls? Or bring a chair for a friend that might think the lines too long to stand in?

What about a disabled friend or loved one? Their vote counts too– help them.

Do a control/click on the above, find out easy things that could help sway the entire election– one voter at a time!

Thank you,

Don C. Reed

Read Full Post »

Last 24 hours crucial….


LAST 24 HOURS: Reaching Someone Who Has Not Made Up Their Mind


By Don C. Reed


This Sunday my brother called me to say:


“I really can’t decide who to vote for—Obama or that other guy.”


I was incoherent for a moment.  The election is Tuesday, and he had not made up his mind?


When I ceased spluttering, and ascertained that he really wasn’t kidding, I gave him a quick list of reasons why Romney would be a disaster—




And why Obama was absolutely what the country needed–http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/04/1155378/-Obama-in-the-Storm


And how a disabled person (my brother has a shattered leg) had voting rights…. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/27/1151061/-Disabled-voter-Know-your-rights?detail=hide


But I should not have been surprised. I come from a religiously conservative family, and the Religious Right is hammering the churches to defy the Constitutional separation of church and state.




We cannot take even our families for granted, and just assume they will vote our way. Some we cannot persuade—my father will vote Republican till his last breath—but those we can reach, we should.


This is quite likely the most important election of our lives.


We must not only win; we must win big.


Everything progressives believe in—including the right to vote itself– is at stake.


Name an issue, and then look at the difference between the parties, as summed up by the men at the top of the ticket.


Environmental change? Obama understands the threat, of which Hurricane Sandy is only one symptom—Romney mocks the very idea that global warming could cause the oceans to rise.  http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/264917-bill-clinton-citing-sandy-hits-romney-on-climate-change


Health care policy? Obama installed America’s first national comprehensive health care program; Romney would undo it, essentially trading Obamacare for “Don’t care”…. http://www.businessweek.com/videos/2012-06-28/romney-pledges-to-repeal-obamacare-on-first-day


Stem cell research? Obama kept his promise, and reversed the crippling restrictions of his Republican predecessor; Romney would cease federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and his running mate Ryan would criminalize it altogether… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/don-c-reed/romney-outlaw-winning-research_b_1950548.html


Jobs and tax rates? Compare George Bush to Bill Clinton. Romney would re-impose the help-the-rich Bush tax cuts and make them permanent; Obama would listen to Clinton, whose job creation record is second to none, and who was not afraid to ask the rich to pitch in a little more.



Women’s rights? Obama honors a woman’s power to make her own personal decisions;

Romney would cheerfully sign a bill criminalizing a woman’s right to choose;– http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/mitt-romney-abortion_n_1980661.html


Supreme Court appointments? The Bush-appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts already leads what has been called the most conservative court in modern history—what will it be like if self-described “severe conservative” Mitt Romney appoints one or possibly two lifetime-serving justices?– http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/us/25roberts.html?pagewanted=all


So in these precious last few moments, make a mental list—who do you know who might conceivably not have made up their mind? Start with your family…


Give them a call; there is still time left to make a difference.


We have today, and part of tomorrow, and then no more.


So reach out to loved ones: friends and family.


Yours might be the only voice they will still listen to.




Read Full Post »

Obama in the Storm


By Don C. Reed

There is a photograph of President Obama which for me sums up his first four years in office. He is standing in darkness on the White House lawn, his Navy blue coat glistening with rain. But he is not scampering for shelter. He is looking ahead.

Four years ago, Obama came to office in another storm, a financial cataclysm brought on by the policies of his predecessor.

The devastation our country faced then was not smashed buildings and flooded streets. But it could have wrecked our country just as surely as Sandy ravaged our eastern states.

Obama faced the financial meltdown calmly, seeking advice from all, not caring which party it came from.

He listened, consulted, thought and prayed about it—and then he went ahead.

He dealt with the meltdown. Then he tackled healthcare, a problem which had eluded every President since our country began.

Once more he reached across the aisle, and again, many of the ideas he chose were Republican ideas, some he openly credited to Mitt Romney. But Romney essentially disavowed his own program, so desperate was he to not be seen helping the President.

But Obama prevailed. Today, no one can be denied medical coverage for a pre-existing condition. That matters to my family, because my son Roman is paralyzed. If he lost his insurance, and Obamacare was not there, I do not know how we would handle his endless medical needs.

To its shame, the Republican party continued its “don’t help the President” policy.

Most of them signed a pledge to never raise taxes on the rich—apparently their promise to Grover Norquist took precedence over their pledge to uphold the Constitution.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell actually said “our top priority” should be that Barack Obama would have only a one-term Presidency. That was more important to him than all the problems afflicting our country. — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-A09a_gHJc

Shamefully, this attitude prevailed among the Party once led by Abraham Lincoln.

But Obama went ahead, doing what he could on his own, with almost no help from what should have been the “loyal opposition”.

He fulfilled a campaign promise to reverse the crippling anti-stemcell policies of his predecessor; today America is moving forward on the path to alleviate financially ruinous diseases and disabilities, which blast our economy even as they blight our families.

Bush began the  trillion dollar Iraq war (under false pretenses, the non-existent weapons of mass destruction); Obama ended it.

Wherever there was trouble, the President was there.

He stood by the American auto industry in its hour of greatest need, despite the “Let Detroit go Bankrupt” advice from Mitt Romney—and today the car company is strong again.

And then— the storm called Sandy. Everyone has family or friends on the east coast—and to see places we had visited, neighborhoods and cities, blasted, gone.

I remembered how endlessly long it took President Bush to respond to Hurricane Katrina… like he was peeking between his fingers, hoping somebody else would take care of the problem for him.

But Obama was there.   

And who met him at the airport, when it set down in the rain.  Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, keynote speaker at the Republican convention. Just days ago, he had been saying the most devastating remarks about the President.

But when they met, all that was gone.

They were two warriors on the same side.

In the helicopter, the President asked Governor Christie what he needed, and used his cellphone on the spot to instantly authorize help.

And when Chris Christie said honestly what a tremendous help our President had been, I had to blink back tears. I did not know why at first; I never liked the New Jersey governor before. — http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/83042.html

But Governor Christie was fighting for the people of his state.

And the President was making sure he did not fight alone.

What blazed between the two leaders was what has been missing in our nation’s capitol: here, at last, was the spirit of cooperation

And Mayor Bloomberg, a political independent, who did not previously endorse Obama? After he saw the President in combat against Sandy, the Mayor measured Obama against Romney, saying:

“One candidate sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet, …one does not. I want our President to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”, he said, giving his endorsement to the President.

Perhaps he remembered the mockery of Mitt Romney, criticizing Obama for “trying to slow the rise of the ocean…”– http://front.moveon.org/watch-romney-mock-climate-change-as-a-punch-line-to-his-horrible-obama-joke/

“One (candidate) believes a woman’s rights should be protected…one does not. One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with the march of freedom; one does not. I want our President to be on the right side of history.”—“Why mayor Bloomberg’s  endorsement of Obama matters”, JenaMcGregor, Washington Post, 11/2/2012

In the next four years, it is my belief that President Barack Obama will get the job done: with Republican cooperation, or without it.

But I hope America will take note if the McConnell policy of total-non-cooperation continues. Anyone who abides by such a policy should be fired in the next election.

As for November 6th, 2012, there is only one man for the job of President, to guide our country through the storms of today into the sunshine of tomorrow.

Barrack Obama will be there for all of us.



Read Full Post »


By Don C. Reed

Want to read a 200-page “book” full of reasons not to trust Mitt Romney—authorized by his fellow Republican, Arizona Senator John McCain?

Here is the document, drawn up by the McCain campaign: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/07/16/1110426/-2008-McCain-oppo-research-file-on-Romney  Material in this article was largely drawn from that Republican document.

ABORTION: “…Romney claimed he supported legalizing abortion before Roe V. Wade decision.” (emphasis added) “Romney: I joined my mother in 1970 when she said she was in favor of legalizing abortion.”—Scott Lehigh, Boston Globe, 10/12/94

However… “When asked if I am pro-choice or pro-life, I say I refuse to accept either label…”Glen Warchol, Salt Lake Tribune, 2/14/99

However again…“Romney now insists he has always been personally pro-life. “I’ve always been personally pro-life…” Ann-Marie Timmins, Concord Monitor, 4/4/07

Still another possibility? “Former adviser Mike Murphy (says):…(Romney)’s been pro-life … faking it as pro-choice…..”—John J. Miller, National Review, 12/14/05

STEM CELLS:  During a November 9th 2004 meeting with an embryonic stem cell researcher, Romney claimed that the researcher told him, ‘We kill the embryos after 14 days.’ Romney then (said) he…had an epiphany, that…stem cell research cheapened respect for human life.

(The researcher), “Harvard’s Doug Melton, claimed Romney ‘Mischaracterized my position. We didn’t discuss killing or anything related to it. I explained my work to him, told him about my deeply-held respect for life, and explained that my work focused on improving the lives of those suffering from debilitating diseases.”

.”—Scott Helman, Boston Globe, 12/17/06

NOTE: The “embryos” referred to are microscopic cells, which would otherwise be discarded as medical waste.

One year after his supposed change of mind, Romney said he had “No ethical problem with surplus IVF embryos being used for research…” Fox News Sunday, 5/22/05

Unfortunately… In 2007 he said: “I won’t use government funds for that.”—Michael Luo, New York Times, 6/15/2007

What does this mean for his wife, Anne  Romney, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an expensive, painful and sometimes paralyzing disease suffered by roughly 300,000 Americans?

http://www.brassandivory.org/2011/03/rising-price-of-ms-disease-modifying.html   http://library.med.utah.edu/kw/ms/epidemiology.html

Mr. Romney knows embryonic stem cell research might help his wife.

“Speaking at a bioethics forum, …Romney endorsed embryonic stem cell research, saying the controversial new science might one day help treat his wife’s multiple sclerosis…(he promised to fight for the research) adding that ‘I’d be happy to talk to (President Bush) about this, though I don’t know if I could budge him an inch.”–Raja Mishra, Boston Globe, 6/14/02.

But now—the statement  “I won’t use government funds for that,” is his most recent word on the subject.

That decision could be tragic.

Three people–my paralyzed son Roman Reed, Mrs. Romney, and a two year old little girl named Gwendolyn Strong– have related neurological conditions. The child, a friend of our family, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a paralyzing condition which often kills children under the age of two. Her SMA, Mrs. Romney’s MS, and my son’s spinal cord injury have a nerve problem called de-myelination.


De-myelination works like this: think of a plastic-wrapped electrical wire. Scrape off the insulation, and the electricity running though it will short-circuit. Similarly, the nerves in the body need insulation, a fatty acid called myelin. If nerves are de-myelinated either by spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or spinal muscular atrophy, you can have tremendous pain, even paralysis.


Embryonic stem cells might cure these conditions, by re-insulating the damaged nerves.


If it was your loved one who had MS, and embryonic stem cell research might help her, wouldn’t you be out there fighting for cellular therapies leading to a cure?

Not Mitt Romney. Although he once supported the research, he now has to “get along” with the Religious Right in the new and ultra-conservative Republican party.

And who did he pick for his running mate? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/don-c-reed/stem-cell-research_b_1816318.html

Romney chose as VP candidate Paul Ryan, co-author (with Todd “legitimate rape” Akin) of “personhood” legislation to give every fertilized egg full legal rights in a court of law. Personhood would not only ban embryonic stem cell research, but also a woman’s right to choose, various forms of birth control including “the pill”, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure itself, which has brought joy to so many childless couples.


VIET NAM: When America called Mitt Romney to serve in the Viet Nam war—he requested and received deferments to avoid the draft.

As the McCain campaign document says: “…Romney received a two-and-a-half-year draft deferment as a Mormon missionary, in addition to a nearly three-year student exemption…federal records show.”—Joe Battenfield, Boston Herald, 5/2/94

At the same time Mitt Romney was ducking the draft, he was also furiously denouncing those who criticized the war he would not himself fight.


While thousands of young Americans were fighting and dying in Viet Nam, Mitt Romney avoided the draft by doing religious missionary work—from a palace in Paris, France. The mansion was so luxurious it later became the embassy of the United Arab Emirates.  

However, speaking of his French lodgings, Mr. Romney complains about how rough he had it, saying: “I don’t recall…having a refrigerator. We shopped before every meal….” Apparently he “does not recall” there was a “Spanish chef and a houseboy” who prepared his meals and cleaned up after him.  


Is Mitt Romney someone on whom we can rely? One more quote from the Republican book:

“He (Romney) was privately against George W. Bush’s early tax cuts before he was publicly for them. He was also for gay rights before he was against them, and he supported campaign finance reform before he denounced it. Not to mention he was pro-choice before he was pro-life. He wouldn’t sign the local no-new-taxes pledge in 2002 before he signed Grover Norquist’s national one in 2007.”—Howie Carr, Boston Herald, 2/9/07

When storms come, and they always do, I want someone in the White House I can trust– who will not be swayed by the winds of political expediency.




Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 899 other followers