SPUC UK: Dr Sardella’s loses top job rather than research on tissue from a baby killed in induced abortion.
Dr Sardella is one of the bravest men I’ve had the privilege to meet and it’s my pleasure to introduce him now to my readers – a man who, together with his wife, has risked his future because of his respect for human life.
Dr. Thomas Sardella obtained his Master in Research in Biological Sciences in Rome University – Tor Vergata – with summa cum laude following a 5-year course. The subjects he studied included zoology, botany, molecular biology, biochemistry, embryology, genetics, anatomy, physiology, cytology and histology, and ecology. He then successfully completed a Ph.D. course in the Faculty of Biomedical and Life sciences in a leading British university carrying out scientific research on spinal cord regeneration and transplantation of adult cells in animal models. He was then employed as a research assistant in the same university and went on deepening his understanding of pain and its transmission through the central nervous system.
I met with Thomas in one of my trips north. We had lunch together in an Italian restaurant next to Edinburgh Haymarket station where we ate a delicious pasta all’ amatriciana!
Fortunately, I have a note of our discussion – which now follows:
JS: Thomas, tell me about the adventure which led you to put your entire future in jeopardy?
TS: John, as you probably know, funding research is not considered a priority in the present critical financial situation. Year after year it is becoming harder and harder to secure money for scientific research, so my work contract in the university in which I was working was to end on the 31st of December 2011 due to limitation of funding. My boss is a leading researcher in his field and we were hoping to find a grant to pay my research and salary to support my family, while we were waiting for a larger five year grant. Finally, a small funding opportunity arose at the end of September 2011. This was supposed to keep me going for the first six months of 2012 and consisted in a collaboration with a research group in San Diego (USA).
JS: What did the research involve?
TS: The research group led by Dr. M. in San Diego would take tissue from an unborn child immediately after an induced abortion. This was carried out around the 8th week of gestation and then the American team would culture the tissue from the embryo in the appropriate conditions. The cells would then be transplanted in the central nervous system in animal models. Slices from these transplanted animals were to be sent to my group in Britain where I was to analyse them. This collaboration was necessary as my group has renowned knowledge and skills.
As you can notice I was not going to be directly involved in the abortion, but how could I have looked through the microscope forgetting that those cells were taken away from the child together with his/her life?
JS: Why as a scientist do you think it was wrong?
TS: The same question was put to me by a student in the John Paul Academy secondary school during a talk I gave some time ago.
My answer is surprisingly simple! If we agree that it is wrong to kill a human being, a member of the homo sapiens species, then we need to ask ourselves when do we become homo sapiens? For every organism of the animal kingdom it is the same answer: when a sperm cell fertilises the egg of the same species, any zoologist or embryologist will affirm that a new organism is conceived. When a human egg is fertilised by a human sperm cell there is nothing we can do to stop the new embryo from being part of our species. The new individual must be considered a human being.