Stem-cell researchers look elsewhere for funding
Stem-cell researchers are not encouraged by favorable court ruling
The Obama administration can continue to support embryonic stem-cell research as a result of a federal judge’s opinion that legal experts said would end a lawsuit challenging the funding. Some researchers, however, said they expect the political divisiveness of their work will persistently threaten those dollars.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who briefly froze the research funding last year, officially ended the lawsuit brought after President Barack Obama reversed an earlier ban on virtually all such research conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The administration’s new policy was almost immediately blocked by a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
After a series of decisions and reversals by appeals courts, Lamberth—the chief judge on the Washington district court— grudgingly ruled in favor of the administration’s NIH policy.
Susan Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, said the litigation and constant political fights over the funding create uncertainty. Her organization relies on private and state sources. “You never know what sort of sword of Damocles will fall,” she said. “There’s already a fair amount of damage done.” The NIH funding was dribbling in, stopped and then started to dribble in again.
The lawsuit was brought by researchers involved in adult stem-cell research. They argued that the Obama administration’s policy violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which bans public funding “for research in which a human embryo and embryos are destroyed.”
The NIH has received more than 100,000 public comments since 2000 on its various policies for funding embryonic stem-cell research, which requires the destruction of a human embryo in order to extract biological material used to create a selfperpetuating line of cells that can be manipulated by researchers.
Weeks after Lamberth granted the plaintiffs an injunction in August 2010, the U.S. Court