Obama Set To Reverse Federal Policy on Stem Cell Research Funding
On Monday, President Obama is expected to announce that he will reverse a policy put in place by former President George W. Bush that restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the New York Times reports (Stout/Harris, New York Times, 3/7).
Bush enacted his policy in August 2001, which limited federal funding to studies involving the about 21 stem cell lines that were already in existence. By lifting the restrictions, Obama will "allow thousands of scientists to study hundreds" of stem cell lines that have been developed during the last eight years, the Post reports.
Researchers also will be able to "dismantle cumbersome bureaucracies constructed to work around the constraints and let them exchange scientific ideas more easily," the Washington Post reports.
Obama's announcement that he intends to lift the restrictions "is not likely to lead to any immediate change in government policy," the Times reports.
It may take many months for NIH to develop new guidelines for the research, but advocates are expected "to push for the process to go as quickly as possible" so universities can have adequate time to submit grant proposals before September 2010, when NIH must give out the last of the $10.4 billion allotted to the agency in the economic stimulus law.
The Post reports that using federal funds to destroy human embryos will still be prohibited under federal law.
However, some researchers hope that funding will be allowed for work on cell lines taken from embryos created specifically for their stem cells, rather than just using embryos leftover from fertility treatments (Stein, Washington Post, 3/7).
What It Means for California
In 2004, voters approved Proposition 71 to provide $3 billion in state funding for stem cell research initiatives that were ineligible for federal funds.
Deepak Srivastava, director of the Gladstone Institute for Cardiovascular Disease, said California Is poised to win a significant share of federal stem cell research funding because CIRM already has financed training programs, research and construction of new laboratories (Tansey, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/7).
On Friday, KPCC's "Patt Morrison" included a discussion with Jerome Zack of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center at UCLA about the change in policy (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 3/6).NPR's "All Things Considered" last week reported on Obama's expected announcement to reverse Bush's restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (Palca/Block, "All Things Considered," NPR, 2/6). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.