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Eminent international and regional scientists, ethicists and policymakers convened in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 27, 2012, for the " Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy 2012."

The event was organized jointly by the Baker Institute Science and Technology Policy Program and Qatar Foundation Research Division. It is an extension of earlier related activities in the series " Stem Cells: Saving Lives or Crossing Lines."

Baker Institute founding director Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian told the conference that the theories and practice of stem cell policy are essential for international dialogue.

"Stem cell research is in line with Islamic practices, and the fatwa issued by the Muslim scholars to allow the use of embryonic cells for research and therapy is a breakthrough in the field and a great opportunity in stem cell research," he was quoted as saying by the Qatar Tribune.

Other featured speakers include Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, Ph.D., who examined the various challenges and opportunities that stem cell research presents in a panel discussion. (Baltimore will speak at the  Baker Institute in Houston on Thursday, April 12, 2012, as part of the Civic Scientist Lecture Series.)

"We have convened this conference because we recognize the potential that stem cell research has for human health, as our region faces a rise in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer," said Dr. Abdelali Haoudi, vice president for research at the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and acting director of the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute.

"Stem cell science stands out because of its many promising potential applications, which include the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many life-threatening illnesses," added  Haoudi in a conference press release.

Participants, including Baker Institute Science and Technology fellow Kirstin Matthews, discussed the latest discoveries and promises of stem cell research and the applications for the development of new therapeutic approaches for a variety of diseases. They also examined policy options that account for cultural, ethical and religious factors.

A dozen Rice University students also had an opportunity to participate as part of the institute's Public Diplomacy & Global Policymaking Program.

Links to media coverage of the conference, including interviews with Ambassador Djerejian, follow: