Groups tapping external agencies, spokespeople in stem cell debate

SPRINGFIELD, NJ: The new AOR for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation is charged with a host of branding and fundraising efforts - but it must first build support for stem cell legislation that President Bush is planning to veto.

SPRINGFIELD, NJ: The new AOR for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation is charged with a host of branding and fundraising efforts - but it must first build support for stem cell legislation that President Bush is planning to veto.

The MWW Group is helping to coordinate media relations as a House-backed bill to increase federal funding for embryonic stem cell research heads to the Senate.

President and CEO Kathy Lewis noted that the foundation is already considered the go-to source on the issue, but it is nonetheless aggressively courting media attention to help foster understanding of the bill.

"When you talk about research, it's hard for the public to understand what's so exciting about what's happening in a test tube," she said.

Other groups on either side of the issue tried to sway coverage as well last week.

The American Life League (ALL) put forth Father Joseph Howard, a member of the American Bioethics Advisory Board, as one of its lead spokespeople on the issue.

Amber Dolle, director of media and government affairs, pointed to Howard's "unique perspective" as both a religious leader and bioethicist.

"Human embryonic stem cell research is unethical and immoral," she said. "It's a creation that has its own DNA, and has never existed before."

The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists is working with GolinHarris to leverage media interest ahead of its biotechnology conference next week. "It's our position to highlight multiple sides of this issue," said Stacey May, director of public outreach.

In 2001, Bush restricted federal funding to cover research on existing stem cell lines. The new bill would ease those restrictions.

MWW Group bested seven other agencies for the Reeve account. The agency will publicize foundation dog tags with the Superman logo as well as a children's book on disabilities.

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