NIH Suspends Funding New Embryonic Stem Cell Research Following Court Order
The Washington Post: "The National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday that it has suspended funding new human embryonic stem cell research and that all federally funded experiments already underway will be cut off when they come up for renewal if a new court order is not overturned. The announcement -- which confirmed fears among proponents that the ruling would result in a comprehensive freeze in federal support for stem cell research -- came in response to a court order Monday barring the government from funding the research because it involves the destruction of embryos. The Justice Department said the administration plans to appeal the ruling, but no further details were released. In the meantime, 50 requests for new funding that were being assessed by the NIH had been 'pulled out of the stack' and will not be considered further" (Stein, 8/25).
CQ HealthBeat: "Lifting restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research was one of President Obama's first initiatives upon taking office. In March 2009, he issued an executive order overturning former President George W. Bush's policy restricting federal financing for research only to the 21 cell lines known to exist on Aug. 9, 2001. Obama's policy permitted federal funds to be used for research on those cell lines as well as newer lines grown from embryos, but not for work on the embryos themselves, including creating the cell lines" (Ethridge, 8/24).
The Wall Street Journal: NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins "and other scientists said the judicial ruling, provided it stands, could hurt the country's interests in the long run. 'It will put us at a huge competitive disadvantage to other countries' with fast-growing stem cell programs, including Japan, the U.K., Australia and China, said Tim Kamp, director of the University of Wisconsin Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center. But David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical Association, said: 'People forget that each one of us was an embryo, and if someone destroyed us for biological parts, we wouldn't be around today.' The CMA, with about 17,000 members, was one of the plaintiffs in the case" (Naik, 8/24).
Politico: "Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton said the administration is dedicated to seeing embryonic stem-cell research proceed. Obama 'thinks that we need to do [stem-cell] research. He put forward stringent ethical guidelines, and he thinks that his policy is the right one,' Burton said Tuesday. 'So we're exploring all possible avenues to make sure that we can continue to do this critical lifesaving research.' But Steve Aden, senior counsel at the anti-abortion Alliance Defense Fund, said the injunction represents a step toward better public policy. Aden, who represents the plaintiffs two scientists who conduct similar research using adult stem cells believes they can achieve better medical breakthroughs than researchers who use embryonic stem cells" (Russonello, 8/24).
Roll Call: "A fall battle is shaping up over embryonic stem cell research after a federal judge ruled Monday against President Barack Obama's executive order allowing the research under some circumstances. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a chief deputy whip who reintroduced a stem cell research bill with Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in March, hopes her bill will come to the floor when Congress reconvenes" (Dennis, 8/24).
The Boston Globe: "Scientists across Boston and Cambridge were surprised and discouraged by the injunction, and were still grappling yesterday with how to proceed in their own labs - in the coming weeks and in the longer term. Before March 2009 ... scientists like those at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute depended on private philanthropy to support their work and maintained dual sets of equipment and supplies to ensure that no federal funds were used on human embryonic stem cell research. One of the two scientists at the center of the lawsuit has long been an outspoken critic of human embryonic stem cell research and a controversial figure in the Boston scientific community" (Johnson, 8/25).