On Friday, March 5, 2010, sisters in formation from the Novitiate and Juniorate houses gathered for a special bioethics presentation by Mother Maria de Itati Lorente, SSVM, a member of our General Council.

Building on her biochemistry background, Mother Itati recently earned her License in BioEthics at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome.

In her presentation on the medical use of stem cells, Mother Itati first provided the sisters with a general background on scientific terminology, the first stages of embryonic development, and the difference between embryonic and adult stem cells. She then demonstrated how these scientific distinctions allow for an authentic ethical evaluation of this promising but troubled new field of medical research.

The presentation also included the history of the “stem cell debate,” recent advances in research, and the current status of legistlation here and abroad. Among the highlighted legislative developments, Mother Itati also mentioned recent efforts in Maryland to redirect funding to adult stem cell research since it has proven to be much more successful and effective in theraputic treatments.

We are so grateful to have spent time with Mother Itati, one of the founding sisters of our Institute, who also served as our first General Superior.

For more information on Catholic teaching about stem cell research, visit the websites of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops , National Catholic Bioethics Center, and the Maryland Catholic Conference.