Scientists Urge President-Elect Obama to Restore U.S. Funding of Stem Cell Research

  • 6 November, 2008

Deerfield, IL, November 6, 2008 – The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), representing the world’s leading stem cell scientists, urges President-Elect Barack Obama to restore federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in the first 100 days of his presidency.

Throughout his campaign Obama has supported stem cell research. We now encourage him to ensure that scientists in the United States can use federal grant funds to study the many valuable human embryonic stem cell lines that have been developed since August 9, 2001, the date that President George W. Bush announced his policy for stem cell research funding. Since that date, embryonic stem cell research efforts have been hampered by the lack of federal support in the United States. Fuller funding for all forms of stem cell research will increase the chances of finding cures for diseases and conditions like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries.

“President-Elect Obama can rejuvenate science and research in the U.S.,” ISSCR President Fiona Watt said. “Millions of patients will be looking to him and to the promise of stem cell research.”

As the principal international organization of stem cell research professionals, the ISSCR supports research on all types of stem cells with the goal of reducing human suffering and developing better understanding of human physiology. The ISSCR upholds ethical guidelines ensuring that appropriate research practices are followed. These include the ISSCR’s Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which call for scrutiny of human embryonic stem cell research and rigorous ethical standards for scientists working with human embryonic stem cells, seeking to promote responsible, transparent and uniform practices worldwide.

“On August 9, 2001, President Bush declared an executive order banning funding for certain kinds of stem cell research on ideological and religious grounds, not on the basis of the promise of such research for advancing medical knowledge and therapies,” ISSCR President-Elect Dr. Irving Weissman said. “This was a dangerous precedent of politicization of biomedical research, perhaps the first ideological ban of a type of research in America. We urge President-Elect Obama to return to the former policy of investigator-initiated research in all areas of stem cell biology and medicine, overseen by the kinds of safeguards we have advocated in the ISSCR’s Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.”

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is an independent, nonprofit membership organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application.

Posted November 6, 2008