President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order reversing former President Bush’s policy limiting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Under the terms of the policy announced this morning, President Obama has fully rescinded the Bush Administration policy in place for the last eight years and has instructed the National Institutes of Health to issue appropriate and ethical guidelines for this necessary research.
ASH was one of the first and few physician organizations at the forefront of the debate over federal research funding of embryonic stem cells, and the Society’s policy in support of all avenues of stem cell research is available online. During the presidential campaign, ASH encouraged President Obama to support expanding stem cell research and urged him to quickly reverse the Bush Administration’s stem cell research policy. ASH is also a member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), the nation’s most vocal proponent of the use of regenerative medicine to cure disease and alleviate suffering.
Under the policy enacted by the Bush Administration, the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research was restricted to cell lines derived prior to August 9, 2001, the date the policy took effect. While scientists had advised then-President Bush that there were about 60 viable cell lines in existence, in practice only 21 embryonic stem cell lines were available to researchers, and those were found to be contaminated with mouse cells or mouse cell products.
President Obama indicated during his announcement that he hopes Congress will also act and pass legislation to provide additional support for stem cell research. Congressional supporters of expanding federally funded embryonic stem cell research have reintroduced the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (HR 873/S 487), which would formally write into law rules for funding embryonic stem cell research with federal research dollars.
ASH commends President Obama for lifting the restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research and the Society looks forward to continuing to work with him other hematologic research priorities.
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