Federal Court Temporarily Lifts Ban on Stem Cell Research

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On Thursday, a federal appeals court held that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research could continue.

The ruling comes nearly two weeks after Federal Judge Royce C. Lamberth blocked President Obama's 2009 executive order expanding stem cell research, citing a 1998 statute banning the use of federal funding for the destruction of embryos. Following that August injunction, scientists scrambled to asses whether they could keep research projects going without the expected government funds. This week's ruling by the United States Court of Appeals would save "research mice from being euthanized, cells in petri dishes from starving and scores of scientists from a suspension of paychecks." The New York Times' Gardiner Harris reports:


Among the projects whose financing was threatened by Judge Lamberth's order was one overseen by Dr. Ira J. Fox, a professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, who has used embryonic stem cells to successfully transplant new liver cells into animals.

Another threatened project was one by Dr. Xuejun Parsons of the University of California, Riverside, who hopes to use embryonic stem cells to create nerve cells that could replace those damaged by Parkinson's disease.

The temporary suspension of the ban will allow the National Institute of Health to provide $78 million to 44 scientists awaiting previously approved funds while the agency evaluates new applications from scientists seeking federal funding for stem cell research. The agency is likely to receive a glut of applications during this temporary window as research groups across the country look to capitalize on the sudden availability of funds.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Jared Keller is a former associate editor for The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire and has also written for Lapham's Quarterly's Deja Vu blog, National Journal's The Hotline, Boston's Weekly Dig, and Preservation magazine. 

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