Texas Heart Institute Partners with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Fifth Annual Stem Cell Policy Panel Session As Part of Ongoing Lecture Series

Moderated by the Baker Institute’s Dr. Kirstin Matthews, the 2021 Session Featured Discussion on Stem Cell Policy from THI’s Dr. Emerson Perin & Dr. Zubin Master of the Mayo Clinic

HOUSTON, TX – On May 20, Texas Heart Institute again aligned its thought leadership in cardiology research with the internationally-renowned Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University for an insightful and thought-provoking panel session. Dating back to 2016, the policy lecture series has covered various topics related to the intersection of stem cell research and public policy. This year’s session focused on the importance of clinical trials, new data on uses of cell-based therapies to treat heart disease, and the risk of providing unproven stem cell treatments.


During the course of the virtual webinar, Texas Heart Institute Medical Director Dr. Emerson Perin and Mayo Clinic Associate Professor of Biomedical Ethics Dr. Zubin Master assessed the landscape for stem cell therapies and collectively ruminated on how unproven stem cell treatments can negatively impact patient health, clinical research, and the perceptions of policymakers — ultimately slowing progress on future cell-based therapies.


At the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Masters’s research delves into ethical and policy issues related to regenerative medicine and stem cell research, genetics, research ethics, and the responsible conduct of research. Most recently, Dr. Masters has focused on the translation and commercialization of stem cell interventions and the direct-to-consumer market of FDA-unapproved stem cell treatments, a topic that applied directly to the panel session’s discourse. “It was an honor to participate in this panel session with esteemed leaders in stem cell investigation. I thoroughly valued the dialogue and look forward to how it will be utilized to influence policy makers’ stances on stem cell treatments moving forward,” Dr. Master noted.


The three-person panel was moderated by the Baker Institute’s Dr. Kirstin R.W. Matthews. At the Baker Institute, Matthews’s research focuses on ethical and policy issues related to biomedical research and development. Specifically, she has spent time exploring regulation and ethical issues related to emerging biotechnology, including genetics and stem cell therapies, and the development of scientific research collaborations. Dr. Matthews is part of a research team with senior fellow Neal Lane and postdoctoral fellow Kenneth Evans, researching the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, federal funding and use of science and technology research and development.


“The goal of the series is to engage with policymakers and the general public in order to raise awareness of the risks related to the marketing of unproven stem cell treatments, as well as other Texas-specific policy issues,” Dr. Matthews emphasized. She added, “I enjoyed being able to collaborate with two highly-respected leaders in stem cell research, Drs. Perin and Master. My hope is that the panel session and the accompanying research that this series has produced will continue to shed additional light on the importance of clinical trials, offer new data on uses of cell-based therapies to treat heart disease, and underscore the dangers associated with utilizing unproven stem cell treatments in clinical settings.”


The annual stem cell policy lecture series is co-sponsored by the Baker Institute Center for Health and Biosciences and the Texas Heart Institute. Support for the program has been provided by a grant from the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation. To date, the series has held five events and produced two research papers. In 2017, the event Texas’ Stem Cell Future: Accessing Outcome Data From Experimental Interventions was held at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, TX.

A video recording of the May 20 panel session may be accessed HERE   All Past Events HERE

Story by Keri Sprung


The Texas Heart Institute, founded by world-renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley in 1962, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastating toll of cardiovascular disease through innovative and progressive programs in research, education, and improved patient care. THI’s scientists and physicians conduct fundamental biomedical, translational, and clinical research in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, molecular-based medicine, stem cell and gene therapy, and regenerative medicine both independently and in collaboration with organizations worldwide. As global leaders of patient care for nearly six decades, Texas Heart Institute has been ranked among the top cardiovascular centers in the United States by U.S. News & World Report for the past 30 years. THI is dedicated to spreading awareness and sharing updates on ways to prevent, treat and defeat cardiovascular disease. With over 10 million visitors coming to its website from around the world every year, www.texasheart.org is just one of the ways THI is helping to educate people on the importance of heart health. For more information, please visit https://www.texasheart.org.



Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy has established itself as one of the premier nonpartisan public policy think tanks in the country. The institute is ranked No. 1 among the top university-affiliated think tanks in the world, according to a 2020 study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program. The survey again ranked the institute’s Center for Energy Studies No. 1 among the world’s energy- and resource-policy think tanks.  As an integral part of Rice University, one of the nation’s most distinguished institutions of higher education, the Baker Institute has a strong track record of achievement based on the work of its fellows, scholars, Rice faculty scholars and staff. Located in Houston, Texas, the nation’s fourth-largest city and the energy capital of the United States, as well as a dynamic international business and cultural center, the Baker Institute brings a unique perspective to some of the most important public policy challenges of our time. Key research programs include energy, the Middle East, health, Mexico studies, public finance, and entrepreneurship and economic growth. The institute collaborates with experts from academia, government, the media, business, and nongovernmental and private organizations. In conjunction with its centers and programs, the institute attracts many domestic and foreign leaders who provide their views and insights on major issues. Speakers have included U.S. presidents and Cabinet members, world leaders and heads of government, and numerous foreign dignitaries from around the globe. To educate and engage the next generation of leaders, many Baker Institute fellows and scholars teach public policy classes. The institute also offers Rice undergraduates the opportunity to apply for competitive internships in Houston, Washington, D.C., and overseas. Graduate students frequently assist fellows and scholars with their research. For more information, please visit https://www.bakerinstitute.org/.