Statehouse shouldn’t put stem-cell center ahead of KU building needs

It’s strange that as the Legislature talks about denying the University of Kansas Medical Center a requested $10 million to build a new health education building, the Senate would vote 33-7 to create a Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at KU estimated to cost $10 million over 10 years. Funding for the stem-cell center would come from federal grants, private gifts and other funds, according to a legislative note. “If Kansas could take a leadership position in that, it could be a highly useful thing for people to get treatments,” said Gov. Sam Brownback, who supports the new center but also recommended $10 million in state funding for a health education building at KU. Some KU faculty and administrators also have expressed support for the center, which would do non-embryonic stem-cell research. But such an important decision about the KU Medical Center and the Kansas Board of Regents should not start with a Statehouse mandate. And it’s hard to see why the center should take precedence over KU’s plan for the new $75 million medical building, which will help it train more physicians.