On August 23rd, 2010 District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered funding of national embryonic research to a halt. For nearly two weeks, research institutions were on again, off again – halting ongoing projects due to lack of funding. Research institutions, such as the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology, rely heavily on federal research grants to supplement research initiatives. By September 9th, the U.S Court of Appeals and NIH – the federal government’s health research agency- lifted the temporary ban..
Since Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded stem cell research, national funding has been a source of contention. It seems stem cell research federal funding is a battle of morality; conservatives and liberals fight for their ideals. Naturally, the rise of the liberal Obama administration is 2008 reinstated embryonic stem cell research funding as one of its first initiatives. Their hope is to find cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries and genetic conditions.
Embryonic stem cells can grow into any kind of tissue and may have the potential to accelerate a range of research:
“Human embryonic stem cell research holds the potential for generating profound new insights into disease, cell-based therapeutics and novel methods of screening for new drugs,” the NIH said in an e-mail statement. “The suspension of all grants, contracts and applications that involve the use of human embryonic stem cells has been temporarily lifted.”
After the Obama administration executively ordered to expand embryonic research, U-M scientists began working vigorously on research. Before the temporary ban, University of Michigan scientists were working with about 50 human embryonic stem cell lines and have only been able to spend federal dollars on the projects within the last year.
Sean Morrison, U-M scientist, will testify on behalf of stem cell research in the upcoming appeals case. He comments, “This injunction will decimate the field if it stays enforced for a significant period of time. When laboratories lose their funding in an unanticipated way, they’re not able to continue on with the projects.” Morrison’s labs, 5 total, will completely disappear if the injunction persists.
On the conservative side, morality rather than federal budgeting of the research is in question. Judge Royce Lamberth argued human embryonic stem cell research violates an existing law against the federally funded destruction of human embryos. In Michigan, an organization strives to expose the immorality of stem cell research. Michigan Right to Life’s director of public information shares,” What so many people don’t realize is to conduct the research requires the destruction of human life and because human embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of human life, we don’t support that research nor would we be supportive of our tax dollars being used for that research.” The conservative organization opposes the use of stem cells in laboratory research, especially research funded by the government.
Scientists working with human embryonic stem cells got the go-ahead this week to continue their work, at least temporarily, while a federal appeals court considers the judge’s ruling that halted federal funding of their research. The federal government is seeking an expedited appeal.