On Friday, ASBMB joined with more than 100 other organizations in co-signing a letter sent to congressional leaders, urging them to pass pending legislation that would “authorize and continue Federal support for human embryonic stem cell research.” The letter calls on Congress “to help ensure the potential of [stem cell] research is translated into treatments and cures” that will “alleviate human suffering and enhance the quality of human life.”
Named the “Stem Cell Research Advancement Act,” the proposed legislation would codify into law the National Institutes of Health Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research, which were established in 2009. The guidelines allow researchers to use federal funds, including those from the NIH, to conduct research on embryonic stem cells derived from excess embryos donated from in-vitro fertilization clinics. Importantly, the act would not obviate the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which bars use of federal funds for destruction of human embryos. Previous versions of this bill passed Congress in both 2005 and 2007 but ultimately were vetoed by President Bush.
The letter insists on action before the end of the 111th Congress in December, when staunch champions of stem cell research, including Rep. Mike Castle, D-Del., Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc., and Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., will step down. Adding to the exigent circumstances is the pending decision in the case of Sherley v. Sebelius, which threatens to permanently end federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
Write your representatives and proclaim your support for stem cell research!