President Barack Obama is expected today to overturn the Bush-era policy that restricted federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. In his official agenda that lays out his positions on issues, Obama said he would “support increased stem cell research. Allow greater federal government funding on a wider array of stem cell lines.”
When stem cells like these human embryonic stem cells divide, each new cell has the potential to remain a stem cell or become a cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell or a red blood cell.
Photo: National Institutes of Health
Terri Somers of The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote an article for AHCJ about covering stem cells that includes background on the science, politics and global competition of stem cell research. AHCJ also has a presentation from Zach W. Hall, former president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, that looks at stem cell research in that state. And Al Tompkins at the Poynter Institute provides some background and links on stem cells.
According to Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, Obama will sign an executive order that will allow study of a broader group of stem cell lines. Cillizza looks at some of the politics surrounding the issue, as well as polls that attempt to measure Americans’ position on stem cell research. The New York Times reports that Obama is leaving some of the more difficult questions about stem cell research to Congress to resolve, such as “whether taxpayer dollars should be used to experiment on embryos.”
Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, writes that “This reversal of former President George W. Bush’s ban on such funding is good news for the science needed to find treatments for currently incurable conditions and for the ethics at stake in the issue.”