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Taxpayers Are Paying for Human Fetal Brains From StemExpress: Report

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“Given the complexity of the human brain, there is no animal tissue that could serve as a research tissue substitute.”

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Taxpayers have been funding the purchase of intact human fetal brains by the University of Connecticut, according to new information gained through a public records request.

Internal emails obtained by the Washington Free Beacon reveal university professor Dr. Nada Zecevic, Planned Parenthood officials and StemExpress founder and CEO Cate Dyer have been in partnership to provide UConn with fully intact fetal human brains to aid researchers in a brain development study for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Between 2012 and now, UConn has spent more than $10,000 on fetal brain tissue for the university's current project, according to university records and emails. The fetal brains cost as much as $1,080 each, and over the last 10 years, researchers have used federal funds to purchase as many as two brains per month, according to the Free Beacon.

In total, Zecevic has received $3.8 million in project funding from taxpaers since 2001.

In an email conversation between Zecevic and Dyer, which began in July 2010, Dyer wrote, "We could defiantly provide you with fetal brain specimens" and attached a "researcher application," explaining StemExpress's fees and services.

The services list includes providing clients with a second-trimester specimen for $180, a first trimester specimen for $390 and a "complete POC," or a complete product of conception, for $890. Should clients desire a "tissue cleaning" or make special requests, StemExpress charges an additional $45 and an additional $80 if long-term storage on dry ice is requested.

Several days later, Dyer sent Zecevic an email confirming StemExpress was "sending you an 18wk Brain Specimen that is coming via FedEx" and was "very anxious" to get the doctor's feedback.

Zecevic has been collecting fetal brain tissue from "autopsies done after medical abortions" since 1995, originally from the Albert Einstein Brain Bank in New York, according to a grant application obtained by the Free Beacon.

However, once the New York provider stopped meeting Zecevic's needs, she turned to Planned Parenthood, writing in an email to Sally Hellerman, an affiliate director of medical services, that she often received a "whole hemisphere" from the Albert Einstein Brain Bank and "having good tissue once per month would be excellent."

Hellerman, in discussing with Zecevic Planned Parenthood's limitations wrote, "None of these are insurmountable." Ultimately, Zecevic determined the partnership with Planned Parenthood would not work due to the abortion techniques the organization uses.

"For more than two decades, Neuroscientist Dr. Nada Zecevic has studied the development of the human central nervous system — including the brain,” Lauren Woods, a spokesperson for UConn Health, said in defense of Zecevic's work. "[G]iven the complexity of the human brain, there is no animal tissue that could serve as a research tissue substitute."

The NIH says fetal human tissue has played an important role in medical research. Funding for projects involving fetal human tissue totaled $76 million in 2014.

(H/T: Free Beacon)

Follow Tré Goins-Phillips (@tregp) on Twitter

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