U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Michael Castle (R-DE), both chief architects of legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, the current policy at the NIH under President Obama's Executive Order, today will introduce bipartisan stem cell research legislation--the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act--to ensure a lasting ethical framework overseeing stem cell research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
"I am grateful that one year ago today, President Barack Obama asserted U.S. leadership in stem cell research by lifting President George W. Bush's ban on embryonic stem cell research," said Rep. DeGette. "But Congress must still enact legislation so that both scientists and individuals who stand to benefit from the promise of this research will have some stability backing their quest for life-changing cures. Since the President's Executive Order establishing a guidelines process for ethical human stem cell research, the NIH has approved 43 stem cell lines eligible for federal funding. I am committed to codifying the process set out in the President's Executive Order and ensuring that stem cell lines such as these remain eligible as we look to the future."
"I continue to share in the view of so many scientists that stem cell research holds great promise for alleviating the suffering of the 100 million American patients living with devastating diseases for which there are no good treatments or cures," said Rep. Castle. "The President's Executive Order lifted restrictions that allowed important research to move forward, but Congress must act to ensure that an over-arching ethical framework is signed into law. Congresswoman DeGette and I will work to advance bipartisan, bicameral consensus for passing this important complementary legislation."
The Stem Cell Research Advancement Act builds on President Barack Obama's Executive Order overturning former President Bush's restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Several years have passed since H.R. 810 / H.R. 3, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act was initially written, passed, and twice vetoed. During that time, the field of human stem cell research has progressed steadily. Just as President Barack Obama did on March 9, 2009, through the issuance of Executive Order 13505 "Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells", Congress must do its job to promote the full potential for stem cell therapies by establishing a lasting framework for National Institutes of Health (NIH) leadership and research in this area.
To ensure it is current with the ever-expanding field of stem cell research and consistent with the President's Executive Order, the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act retains the strong ethical requirements for embryonic stem cell research; requires NIH to maintain guidelines on all human stem cell research; requires NIH to review the guidelines at least every three years and make periodic updates to the guidelines as scientifically warranted; bans the use of federal funding for human cloning under the NIH guidelines; and requires a biennial report to Congress on the research. Under this legislation the NIH is required to ensure the guidelines it published on July 7, 2009, in accordance with President Obama's Executive Order, are periodically reviewed, and are ethically responsible, scientifically worthy, and compliant with all applicable laws. It will help to ensure that scientists, businesses, and investors are guaranteed regulatory consistency and transparency as the field of human stem cell research continues to evolve.