Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Obama's Executive Order on Stem Cells Means

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What Obama's Executive Order on Stem Cells Means
By Karen Kaplan
March 10, 2009
Los Angeles Times

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With the stroke of a pen, President Obama cleared the way Monday for the
National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies to fund research
using all kinds of human embryonic stem cells.

"Scientists believe these tiny cells may have the potential to help us
understand, and possibly cure, some of our most devastating diseases and
conditions," Obama said at the signing ceremony.

Obama's executive order removes funding restrictions put in place by
President George W. Bush and fulfills an oft-repeated campaign promise.
Scientists, patient advocacy groups and politicians on both sides of the
aisle praised the action.

What exactly has changed?

Bush was the first to allow scientists to study human embryonic stem cells
with federal funds. But he personally opposed the research on moral
grounds because the cells can't be made without dismantling human embryos.
To discourage the destruction of additional embryos, he limited federal
funding to cell lines that had already been made by August 2001, when his
policy went into effect.

Obama's executive order removes that restriction, making hundreds of newer
lines eligible for NIH funding.


What does this mean for scientists?

Haven't scientists made embryonic stem cells without using embryos?

Can federal funds be used to make new human embryonic stem cell lines?

Are there any other restrictions?

What sorts of things will the NIH consider?

Isn't that cloning?

When will they get it?

Does this mean there's no need for Congress to act?

Will California keep spending its $3 billion on stem cell research?


Scientists cheer Obama's stem cell reversal
Associated Press

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Scientists are cheering President Barack Obama's
lifting of federal funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research,
hopeful the move will open the financial floodgates to speed new

"It's wonderful. We are elated," said Jan Nolta, who directs the stem cell
research program at the University of California at Davis. "Now that we
can use the federal funds, it will just go so much more quickly."

Directors of university programs in stem cell research said that money
would mean more jobs at labs, especially for students just starting their
careers. Researchers and biotech entrepreneurs also expect more work.

In 2001, President George W. Bush limited federal money for human
embryonic stem cell research to 21 pre-existing stem cell lines, or
families of cells derived from individual embryos.

Under those rules, scientists would have had to ensure that federal funds
were not used to buy even the plastic pens used to write down observations
from experiments on unapproved cells, Nolta said.

Obama's executive order now allows federally funded researchers to use
hundreds of new embryonic stem cell lines. The reversal means some of the
$10 billion for health care research in the president's stimulus package
likely would go to stem cells.

Though most federal grants go to academic researchers, biotech industry
backers said the rule changes also could mean a windfall for private


The complete articles may be read at the URLs provided for each.

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