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scientists respond to the death of Christopher Reeve

The actor, known for his role as Superman, was a tireless supporter of stem cell research after a riding accident in 1995 left him paralysed.

Shahana and Zain Hashmi, (the Hashmi’s fought through the courts for their son Zain’s right to have a controversial, but lifesaving treatment), said:

“I would describe Christopher Reeve as a hero of science for highlighting and embracing new research that will help thousands of people across the globe.”

Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, lead member of the Newcastle Human Embryonic Stem Cell Group based at the Centre for Life, Newcastle, said:

“We are extremely saddened because the world lost not only an excellent actor, but also one of the leading figures who encouraged debate on the subject of human embryonic stem cell research. We will miss his contribution especially where mediation of scientific progress to the public is needed, but we hope that we will go on where his dream stopped.”

Diana Garnham, Chief Executive, Association of Medical Research Charities, said:

“Christopher Reeve was a brave advocate for embryo stem cell research. It is so sad that he will not benefit from this, but the legacy of his campaign will be our continued commitment to embryo and other research into spinal injury.”

Professor Roger Pedersen, Director, Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, said:

“Christopher was not only a tireless supporter for stem cell research, he was also a good friend. His brave determination to see the benefits of stem cell research reach patient care was an inspiration to everyone in our field. He will be greatly missed.”

Alistair Kent, Director, Genetic Interest Group, said:

“Christopher Reeve’s achievement was not to accept things at face value and to give hope that research would ultimately find cures for those affected by spinal chord injury. He was an inspiration and he will be sorely missed.”

Dr Stephen Minger, Lecturer in Biomolecular Sciences, Kings College London, said:

“Christopher Reeve has done an amazing job promoting responsible stem cell research across the world. Though he is well known for his outspoken views against the US policy on stem cell research, he has also campaigned in Australia – flying to the country recently before an important vote on stem cell policy. In addition, his work has created a foundation to further research into spinal chord injury and has managed to elevate its profile.”

Colin McGuckin, Reader in Stem Cell Biology, Kingston University, said:

“His contribution was bringing spinal injury out into the public eye. Research has benefited from his work to increase the publics’ awareness of tissue engineering and stem cell research.”

Professor Colin Blakemore, Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Chief Executive, said:

“We were saddened to hear of the death of Christopher Reeve. He has been such an effective advocate of stem cell research, as well as being an extremely courageous individual who never lost hope that the power of modern medicine would find an answer to his injuries, and those of others.

“All of us who are actively trying to advance stem cell research fervently hope that it will one day be possible to repair spinal injuries and treat currently incurable conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease.

“We have been very grateful for Christopher’s support. He was very supportive of the UK’s legal position and policy on stem cell therapy and contributed to MRC’s first International Stem Cell Conference. He was the human voice that changed attitudes. Its one thing for scientists to say ‘we know we can do this’, but Christopher put all this into a real-life perspective. Its people like Christopher we desperately want to help. Its sad that he did not live long enough to see the full benefits of the research for which he campaigned.”

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