In the October 2009 issue of BioScience, Jenna Jadin reports on the new NIH guidelines on stem human embryonic cell research and the resulting changes in policy issues regarding stem cells. An excerpt from the article follows, but the complete article (along with prior Washington Watch columns) may be viewed for free at

Many scientists and patient advocates cheered earlier this summer when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released new guidelines for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. The guidelines came after President Obama’s March 2009 executive order lifting the restrictions on federal support for research using embryonic stem cells.

Obama’s directive revoked the Bush administration’s restrictions and funding ban on hESC research, which had limited scientists to using only 21 approved cell lines out of about 700 in existence. The directive also ordered the NIH to issue new guidelines for hESC research, which were released in July 2009. These new guidelines specify that NIH funding can be provided for research on hESCs derived from human embryos “that were created using in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes [but] were no longer needed for this purpose,” and were donated by individuals who were fully informed about embryo treatment and gave their voluntary, written consent to use the embryos for research. The guidelines also stipulate that there can be no financial inducements for embryo donations, and that NIH-funded research must remain separate from privately funded research. Additionally, the NIH will establish a working group of scientists and ethicists to review existing cell lines, determine their eligibility for federal funding, and post those hESCs eligible for federal funds in an online registry. To continue reading this article for free, visit


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