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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116

Actor, activist Christopher Reeve to speak at URI
His talk is part of a panel discussion on stem cell research

Christopher ReeveKINGSTON, R.I. -- September 24, 2002 -- From his first appearance at the Williamstown Theatre Festival at the age of 15, Christopher Reeve established a reputation as one of the country's leading actors. Since he was paralyzed in an equestrian competition in 1995, Reeve has assumed a leading role in promoting stem cell research.

Reeve will speak on "Stem Cell Research Ethics and Public Policy" on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m.--please note time change—at the University of Rhode Island. The discussion is part of URI’s Fall Honors Colloquium, which is focused on genetic technology and public policy. The talk will be held in Room 271 of URI’s Chafee Social Science Center. It is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. The evening is sponsored by the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation.

Responding to Reeve will be Dr. Peter Smith, a nationally known pediatric hematologist and professor emeritus of pediatrics at Brown, and the Rev. David Ames, Episcopal chaplain and assistant clinical professor of community health.

Reeve has not only put a human face on spinal cord injury, he has motivated neuroscientists around the world to conquer the most complex diseases of the brain and central nervous system.

After graduating from Cornell University in 1974, Reeve pursued his dream of acting, studying at Juilliard under the legendary John Houseman. He made his Broadway debut opposite Katharine Hepburn in A Matter of Gravity and then went on to distinguish himself in a variety of stage, screen and television roles with a passion that continues today. Film credits include Superman and its sequels Deathtrap, Somewhere in Time, The Bostonians, and the Oscar-nominated The Remains of the Day. Stage credits include The Marriage of Figaro, Fifth of July, My Life, Summer and Smoke, Love Letters and The Aspern Papers.

In 1999, Reeve became the chairman of the board of the Christopher

Reeve Paralysis Foundation, a national, nonprofit organization which supports research to develop effective treatments and a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other central nervous system disorders. The foundation also allocates a portion of its resources to grants that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As vice chairman of the National Organization on Disability, he works on quality of life issues for the disabled. In partnership with U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, he helped pass the 1999 Work Incentives Improvement Act, which allows people with disabilities to return to work and still receive disability benefits.

Reeve is on the board of directors of World T.E.A.M. Sports, a group that organizes and sponsors challenging sporting events for athletes with disabilities; TechHealth, a private company that assists in the relationship between patients and their insurance companies; and LIFE, a charitable organization that supports education and opportunities for the under-served population.

Working tirelessly to obtain increased funding from both the public and private sectors to cure Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, stroke, as well as to repair the damaged spinal cord, Reeve helped establish the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California at Irvine, College of Medicine.

The center supports the study of trauma to the spinal cord and diseases affecting it, with an emphasis on the development of therapies to promote the recovery and repair of neurological function. He works with Dr. John MacDonald of Washington University on a study to demonstrate that activity dependent training promotes functional recovery in patients with chronic spinal cord injuries. While Reeve raises public awareness about the significance of medical research and the challenges facing those with disabilities, he has been particularly active promoting stem cell research.

Immediately following Reeve’s presentation, David Ames, Episcopal Chaplain at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design and coordinator for campus ministries on the campuses served by the Rhode Island State Council of Churches and Peter Smith, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Brown University and a former pediatric hematologist-oncologist will speak.

Ames has written and lectured widely in the area of biomedical ethics. A portion of his doctoral thesis, co-authored with Colin Gracey, was published as an adult study guide titled: Good Genes?: Emerging Values for Science, Religion and Society. He is a co-director of a curriculum on spirituality and medicine for the Brown Medical School and has served as a board member of several non-profit organizations dedicated to health care issues and/or to interfaith relationships. Currently he is serving on the Rhode Island Department of Health Genetic Screening Advisory Board.

In 1992, he was appointed clinical assistant professor of community health, Brown University School of Medicine.

Ames received his master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1967 and was named a Fellow of the College of Preachers at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in 1974.

As a member of the Affinity Group Faculty in the Brown Medical School, he is co-teaching a course with professor of microbiology Peter Shank on Genetics: Ethics and Public Policy. He serves as a member of the executive committee for the Affinity Group Program, and a member of the Assessment Committee on Moral Reasoning and Clinical Ethics.

Peter Smith, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Brown University and a former pediatric hematologist-oncologist for 26 years at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence where he cared for children with cancer, AIDS and blood diseases. Smith was director of the hemophilia and sickle cell programs, both of which are life-threatening congenital diseases. He has had a longstanding interest in ethics and serves on the advisory board to the state health department director on genetics.

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