Obama Reverses Bush Policy on Stem Cell Research

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaIn a wonderful moment for both science and humanity, President Barack Obama repealed the policy of George Bush limiting federal funding for stem cell research. The policy put inot place in 2001 has slowed progress toward finding cures from some of the worst diseases like Parkinson’s disease.

Obama stated that “In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values.”

I was one of Bush’s critics in this area. As a columnist I was able to speak for millions with family members suffering from diseases that might have benefited from such expanded research. My father, Jack Turley, died from Parkinson’s Disease and was the subject of a number of my columns, here and here and here and here.

For obvious reasons, this is a wonderful day for many Americans and a true act of leadership by this president.

For the full story, click here.

55 thoughts on “Obama Reverses Bush Policy on Stem Cell Research”

  1. Bron98,

    I think it fits that energy was created before matter. I’m a bit of an amateur regarding science but I’m open to discussing it.

  2. Clint:

    And God created day and night. I thouhgt it was amusing that the first thing created at the Big Bang was……..Light. Your thoughts?

  3. **By the way, many historians believe the reference to Jesus in Josephus was inserted later by a pious but over-zealous member of the faithful.**

    I was made aware of that by an atheist who had done a bit more research than me. My point was that, for the most part, Josephus’ works are taken as historically reliable yet many are very quick to say that Scripture is not.

  4. What on earth is the real question?

    I think it’s pretty obvious what my comment “has to do with

    There have been hundreds of new hESC lines created since 2001 when Bush drew the line at ’21’. Some disease specific and some free of animal proteins, yet only $200M in US government grant funds awarded in the last eight years.

  5. Patty, what on earth does that have to do with anything people said above? It might be tempting to say that Dick Cheney is the product of a pluripotent mutation, but stem cells were not isolated until the late 1990s at the University of Wisconsin.

    Our researchers here say this legislation will make a lot of difference in the types of cells they can study. For example, some researchers studying the Fragile-X mutation have had trouble getting the cells and working with them on campus grounds. A researcher specifically studying Parkinson disease said this will open up her research to different kinds of cells.

    Still, we have our pro-lifers who are grousing that this invades the dignity of human life. I don’t get it. Do they believe a human being comes from God or from a glass dish? If they believe in an all-knowing God, don’t they also believe that this God can tell the difference between a future human being and simply a fertilized egg?

  6. Clint:

    “What parts were allegorical?

    No one claims that Josephus was allegorical, why do so with the Gospels?”

    Ok with me Clint but you have to believe in flight without technology (Acts 1:1-11), extraterrestrial visitors (Hebrews 1:14), ghostly apparitions ((Luke 24:37-39), and a society where the dead rise from their tombs on a given day and no one seems surprised enough to mention it (Matt 27:51-53). You can believe what you want to believe.

    By the way, many historians believe the reference to Jesus in Josephus was inserted later by a pious but over-zealous member of the faithful. Like the religious right of our day, a little forgery in furtherance of the faith overcame any notion of scruples. Even if you accept Josphus’ account as accurate you must be taken aback when other ancient historians like Origen clearly state that Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Christ.

  7. No surprisingly, there’s a smidge of confusion re the science
    – procedures for production, types of cells, and animal
    (feeder) cell contamination.

    I recently posted here with the announcement of the first human trial at the end of January.


    Stem cell labs have continued to expand hESC research outside of Bush-era restrictions, but they have routinely been prohibited from sharing the same staff, equipment, and supplies funded by (NIH) government grants, to do it.

    Restricted research, under Bush, required maintenance of duplicate staff and equipment as well as the procurement of separate ‘private’ funding.

    In 2007, three different groups reported the production of iPS (Induced Pluripotent Stem cells) which entailed the injection of different combinations of genes into ‘specialized’ cells, like skin cells, reprogramming them to unspecialized cell states similar to the ‘pluripotence’ of embryonic stem cells.

    While iPS share similar characteristics to embyronic stem cells, they are not identical to ‘hESC’s.

  8. Jill:

    In a truly free society I ought to be able to sell my kidney or a part of my liver or a lung or some skin to the highest bidder. I have a “right” to my body to do with it as I see fit, there are no ethical considerations necessary only that the purchaser and the seller agree on the price and the particulars of the sale.

    If this was allowed we would not be short of organs for people that need them.

  9. Buddha,

    I bet if we got to see cheney’s medical records your questions would be answered! I think it was the NYT that wrote a piece on the organ “donor” network a while back.

  10. Jill,

    That brings up a point about human trafficking. Whenever a story is run on this topic the focus always seems to be sex trade and occasionally labor, but I wonder how much “black” medical experiments or procedures factor into that? Surely someone without qualms about buying a black market organ is but a short step from entering mad scientist territory.

  11. Gyges,

    I agree this may be the case and I’m glad Obama has lifted these restrictions. It does seem other avenues may be more fruitful, but there are some really bad diseases that might be cured or at least amelioration by this therapy and I’d like to see all avenues explored.

    I do think there are real ethical concerns, that, thanks to bush, our country is behind other nations in addressing. We should get cracking on thoughtful rules because it won’t be the first time that science without ethics has landed us in a disaster. There’s a teen book, that while, written a little too heavy handedly, speaks to where this all may go someday. It’s called: “House of the Scorpian” by Nancy Farmer. If it was edited down it would make a fantastic movie.

    It addresses what happens with research in the context of a social system, like ours, where the rich are able to use the poor for their own purposes. This already happens with kidney “donations” by the poor in India and China for example. So I’m glad this ban was lifted but we need an immediate ethical review.

  12. Speaking to the original issue:

    Perhaps the reason that there haven’t been many big breakthroughs using hESC (they have been recently been approved for testing in a couple of applications) is that in the US their use has been restricted to pre-existing lines since for the past 6 or 7 years (at least for institutions using any Government grant, which is almost every university, research hospital, etc.). Several of those lines have recently been shown to be contaminated.

    Just to make sure everyone is clear on where embryonic stem cells come from, they are harvested from blastocysts. Which are formed 4-5 days after fertilization, have only 50-150 cells, and have not implanted themselves on the Uterine Wall. Left over Blastocysts are routinely destroyed after a successful In Vitro Fertilization. In 2007 3 new lines were created w\o destroying the parent embryo. There is also some hope that stem cells found in the fluid surrounding a fetus would be usable. Both of those last two were illegal under the old Bush Policy.

    As a final reminder the difference between an adult stem cell and embryonic is that adult stem cells have already become differentiated, severely limiting their use.

  13. Mespo,

    “I’ll sign on to that. Just as you can’t blame the writers of the Gospel stories (who clearly were writing in the allegorical context of their times),for the literalistic bent of some of the present day followers.”

    What parts were allegorical?

    No one claims that Josephus was allegorical, why do so with the Gospels?

Comments are closed.