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Oct. 2, 2003|
The Federal Door Opens Wider to Embryonic Stem Cell Research |
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, headed by former Governor of Wisconsin, Secretary Tommy Thompson, is moving forward with embryonic stem cell research, using the stem cell lines approved by President Bush in August of 2001.
At the time President Bush announced his intention to allow research on stem cells taken from embryos who had already been killed, we and many others pointed out that, by leaving the door to embryonic stem cell research open a crack, he was essentially giving the green light to a future in which the door would eventually be wide open.
On September 29, 2003 the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a branch of the National Institutes of Health, issued a press release announcing that it has awarded more than $6.3 million in grants over three years to three Exploratory Centers for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.
"By awarding the center grants, NIGMS hopes to establish human embryonic stem cells as a unique model system to help researchers understand the extraordinary complexities of human biology," states the release. "NIGMS recognizes a critical need to increase the scientific workforce in this important area of 21st century biomedical research," said Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D., acting director of NIGMS.
The three new center awards will go to the University of Washington, Seattle/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center ($753,000) for the first year to improve methods to culture, maintain, manipulate, differentiate and compare the 12 federally approved human embryonic stem cell lines; the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor ($778,000) for the first year to apply knowledge and expertise in cell biology, developmental genetics and tissue biology to the study of human embryonic stem cells; and WiCell Research Institute in Madison, Wisconsin ($669,000) for the first year of funding to create a central core facility to provide cell tissue culture support, including media preparation, and routine chromosomal analysis of cultured stem cells.
Yes, the door is certainly open more than a crack, and foot-dragging by the Republican leadership in Congress has resulted in stalled attempts to pass legislation prohibiting all research that requires the killing of human embryos.
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