New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh's donation of $500,000 to the University of California for stem cell research has not gone down well in their home country. Citing that stem cell research could find cure for incurable diseases, Jackson said that they hoped the donation could be put to good use.
"We have lost close friends and relatives to cancer and Parkinson's disease, and the level of personal suffering inflicted on patients and their families by these diseases is horrific," Jackson said. "(Stem cell therapy) has the capacity to exponentially improve the quality of life for those who currently suffer from spinal cord injury, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and many other debilitating medical conditions."
The donation will be called the Bill and Joan Jackson Scholars Fund after Jackson's parents. However professor Mike Berridge, who studies cancer stem cells at Wellington's Malaghan Institute said it was sad that they did not decide to donate locally.
"I'm stunned that New Zealand dollars are being given overseas but I'm not surprised because there's not an awareness of what's going on in New Zealand in many areas of research," he said. He said work at Malaghan and Auckland University was focused on stem cells and their ability to combat cancer.
Even Science Minister Steve Maharey conceded that the donation showed more needed to be done to spread awareness of the exemplary work being done in NZ.