A retail mogul and philanthropist sought to advance stem cell research on scientific and political fronts — by announcing a multimillion-dollar donation to a medical institute bearing his name and luring a former president to stump for a state proposal that would loosen restrictions on such research.
A. Alfred Taubman said President Bill Clinton has accepted his invitation to come to Michigan on Friday and raise money for CureMichigan, the group supporting Proposal 2 on the state's November ballot.
He's scheduled to appear at a fundraiser at the Taubman Air Terminal next to Oakland County International Airport. Tickets must be bought for members of the public who want to attend. Tickets are listed at $2,500, $1,000 and $500.
Taubman, 84, who described Clinton as a friend, said the two discussed the topic recently over lunch at Clinton's office after a round of golf.
"He's a great advocate of embryonic stem cell research," Taubman told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. "He was (sharing) his knowledge of embryonic stem cells. I suggested he come to Michigan ... and he agreed to do it.
"He's very interested in what embryonic stem cells can do for mankind."
Taubman also announced Tuesday that he would leave $22 million for the University of Michigan's A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, whose work into a range of human diseases includes stem cells. The bequest follows $22 million Taubman gave last year to establish the center through an endowment and support research into neurological diseases.
Taubman, a luxury mall developer who founded Bloomfield Hills-based Taubman Centers Inc. in 1950, is among the biggest donors in the campaign to pass the proposal, which would change state law to allow people to donate embryos left over from fertility treatments.
Those embryos, not suitable for implantation, would otherwise be thrown away as medical waste.
Supporters say the ballot measure could put state researchers at the forefront of an emerging science that might discover cures for a host of illnesses. Opponents say the research is unethical because it involves the use and destruction of human embryos.
Taubman said he's impressed by progress being made at the research center, though stem cell work is stymied by state restrictions. He said there are joint ventures with researchers in California and overseas, but he'd like to see voters approve the proposal so more can be done in Michigan.