Mar 1, 2006    #038
Contact: Noemi Rojas
(816) 235-1520

UMKC student shines spotlight on stem cell debate

Jeff McCaffrey was a college freshman and football player at the U.S. Air Force Academy the year he became paralyzed in a car accident. Today, the 21-year-old business major at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is rallying students for the cause that may have him walking again.

McCaffrey, who was featured Feb. 28 in the Chicago Tribune in a story about Missouri’s stem cell debate, is a founding member of the Student Society for Stem Cell Research (SSSCR), UMKC chapter. It is the first student-organized stem cell advocacy group in Missouri.

"We want to start others,” said McCaffrey, 21, SSSCR vice president.

Over the next eight months, the primary aim of SSSCR will be to put the issue of stem cell research on the Missouri ballot, the first ballot initiative of its kind in the U.S.

“Some politicians in Missouri are trying to pass state laws criminalizing stem cell research. The laws would prevent Missourians from having access to future stem cell cures that are federally approved,” said Simon Khagi, 22, president of SSSCR and UMKC medical student.

SSSCR is made up of diverse students from various academic units at UMKC. They have been meeting monthly since January. Its mission is to educate, advocate and act on public policy affecting medical stem cell research.

To learn about SSSCR meetings at UMKC, send email to

To learn more about McCaffrey, his story can be found at the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures website.

This summer, he will participate in a congressional internship in Washington, D.C., where he will meet key people in the field of disability rights. He was one of eight undergraduates in the country selected by the American Association of People with Disabilities for the internship.

Because of his knowledge on stem cells and his ability to translate this politically and medically complex issue into human terms, he continues to be the subject of articles and a source of inspiration.

UMKC is one of four University of Missouri campuses. It is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences and urban affairs.



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