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Cablegate: Madrid Science and Technology Tidbits

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 003899

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR OES/STC, OES/IHA, AND EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OSCI SOCI SP
SUBJECT: MADRID SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY TIDBITS

1. Madrid's ESTH Officer periodically groups together and
reports ESTH developments that might otherwise "fall below
the reporting bar." Key issues will continue to be reported
via "stand alone" cables. ESTH Officer Ken Forder welcomes
feedback at forderk@state.gov.

2. INDEX:

A. Policy change on embryonic stem cell research.
B. Government plans 25 percent increase in R and D budget.
C. Spain's largest private medical research facility opens.
D. Inter-ministerial science commission altered.

--------------------------------------------- ----
A. POLICY CHANGE ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. The Health Ministry announced that in October, the
Spanish cabinet would issue a Royal Decree Law that would
permit embryonic stem cell research in Spain. The new law
will reportedly allow research only on embryos that were
stored in "In Vitro" fertility centers prior to November,
2003 (in keeping with the terms of Spain's November 2003
Assisted Reproduction Law). The new law will reportedly
regulate the conduct of embryonic stem cell research and how
donor consent must be obtained. The Royal Decree Law will be
an interim measure until the overarching Assisted
Reproduction Law of November 2003 can be amended to permit
such research, including on embryos placed into storage after
November, 2003.

--------------------------------------------- -------------
B. GOVERNMENT PLANS 25 PERCENT INCREASE IN R AND D BUDGET
--------------------------------------------- -------------

4. Hoping to keep his campaign promise, President Zapatero
announced that his 2005 national budget proposal would
include a 25 percent increase in R and D funding. Justifying
his request, Zapatero said the increased funding would
"permit policies that attract Spanish as well as foreign
researchers who are working in other countries. It will
especially boost research in sectors key to improving
(Spain's) competitiveness: pharmaceuticals, space,
telecommunications, biotechnology, clean energy technologies
and sustainable development." In 2002, Spain officially
spent 0.97 percent of its GNP on R and D. The EU average is
reportedly close to 2.0 percent of GDP.

--------------------------------------------- --------------

C. SPAIN'S LARGEST PRIVATE MEDICAL RESEARCH FACILITY OPENS
--------------------------------------------- --------------

5. Spain's largest private medical research center opened
September 20 at the University of Navarra. The Research
Center for Applied Medicine (CIMA) will focus its research
on: neurology, in particular Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
diseases; cardiovascular diseases; oncology; gene therapy;
and, hepatology. Over 300 scientists will work on 22
official projects in the above areas. 70 percent of the
center's 33 million euro start up costs were financed by the
private sector. A consortium of 15 corporations has promised
to pay over 75 percent of the center's estimated 200 million
euro operating costs for the 2004-14 period. The balance of
the financing will come from research grants (both public and
private) as well as other forms of public funding. The
center's director, Francisco Errasti, said he hoped that many
Spanish scientists working abroad would come back to Spain to
work at the center. The head of the center's gene therapy
department, Jesus Prieto, ruled out any research with
embryonic stem cells, saying his team would use only adult
stem cells.

--------------------------------------------- ---
D. INTER-MINISTERIAL SCIENCE COMMISSION ALTERED
--------------------------------------------- ---

6. The Government's Inter-Ministerial Science Research and
Development and Technological Innovation Commission, which
was established on May 14 by the then just-elected PSOE
government, was scrapped in September before even meeting for
the first time. The September 3 Royal Decree Law abolishing
the still-born Commission noted that it would have been
redundant with the extant Inter-Ministerial Science and
Technology Commission (CICYT). The CICYT is charged with
inter-agency coordination of science and technology-related
issues that cut across ministerial lines. The Royal Decree
Law of September 3 also assigned operational control of the
CICYT to the newly established Ministry of Education and
Science and Technology.
ARGYROS

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