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State of the Union 2008

Increasing Federal Support For Ethical Stem Cell Research
President Bush Has Strengthened America's Commitment To Non-Destructive Research On Pluripotent Stem Cells

President Bush has directed Federal agencies to provide new funding for stem cell research that does not harm human embryos. Recent research has reaffirmed the President's commitment to supporting non-destructive research methods, including:

  • In January 2007, scientists discovered that cells extracted from amniotic fluid and placentas could also provide pluripotent stem cells that seem to function like embryonic stem cells.
  • In November 2007, several new studies showed the potential of reprogramming adult cells, such as skin cells, to make them function like embryonic stem cells.

President Bush will also call tonight on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.

President Bush's Balanced Stem Cell Policies Are Advancing Science Within Ethical Boundaries And Enabling Many To Receive Therapeutic Treatments

In 2001, President Bush announced a balanced approach to stem cell research that would allow Federal funding for research using existing embryonic stem cell lines. This policy allowed the Federal government to support research on dozens of existing stem cell lines without sanctioning or encouraging the destruction of additional human embryos.

President Bush is the first president to provide Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Since 2001, the Administration has made a total of more than $170 million available for research on stem cell lines derived from embryos that had already been destroyed. In addition, we have provided nearly $3.7 billion for research on all forms of stem cells, including those from adult and other non-embryonic sources.

The President opposes any attempt to compel for the first time American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos. He believes that by enacting appropriate policy safeguards while encouraging the development of novel scientific techniques, it is possible to advance scientific and medical frontiers without violating moral principles.

The President has acted to strengthen our Nation's commitment to research on pluripotent stem cells, which have the potential to develop into nearly all the cell types and tissues in the body. In June 2007, he signed an Executive Order to expand support for these non-destructive research methods and make it more likely that exciting advances in this area will continue. The Order:

  • Directed the Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH to ensure that any human pluripotent stem cell lines produced in ways that do not create, destroy, or harm human embryos will be eligible for Federal funding.
  • Expanded the NIH's Embryonic Stem Cell Registry to include all types of ethically produced human pluripotent stem cells. NIH is planning to add to the Registry later this year new pluripotent stem cell lines not derived from embryos.
  • Renamed the registry the Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry - so that it reflects what the stem cells can do, instead of where they come from.
  • Invited scientists to work with the NIH to add new ethically derived stem cell lines to the list of those eligible for Federal funding.

In September 2007, the NIH announced a plan to implement the President's Executive Order. The plan includes a number of new or accelerated activities, including:

  • The NIH Stem Cell Task Force will develop several funding opportunity announcements, including a request for grant applications proposing research on human pluripotent stem cells derived from non-embryonic sources, such as adult cells or cells found in amniotic fluid.
  • In addition, the Stem Cell Task Force will create two programs that will rapidly stimulate research in specific areas. They would be awarded to researchers already working in stem cell research to augment certain areas of their work that are of particular interest to NIH.