Three years ago, President Bush opened the nation’s laboratory doors for the first time to federal taxpayer funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
The President remains committed to this groundbreaking policy that is advancing medical research into some of our most debilitating diseases. As we look forward to further progress on stem cell research, both embryonic and adult, it is important to keep in mind several important points.
President Bush provided -- for the first time -- federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. The President’s unprecedented decision allows for federal funding of research using existing stem cell lines that were derived before Aug. 9, 2001, with no limits on private funding of research. The President believes that federal funds should not be used to encourage or support further destruction of human embryos, a principle that has been part of federal law since 1996. The impact of the President’s decision was to open the flow of federal research dollars for embryonic stem cells and help accelerate work in this field.
The policy is working. Under President Bush, federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has grown from zero under previous administrations to $24.8 million in fiscal year 2003, with no limits on future federal funding of research on eligible lines. This investment has supported more than 500 shipments of stem cell lines to researchers around the world who are in the early stages of finding ways stem cells can be used to treat diseases such as neurological disorders, diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, in fiscal year 2003, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided $190.7 million in adult stem cell research, which continues to show exciting promise.
The Administration is working to maximize research opportunities within the federal guidelines. NIH is taking new steps to create a National Embryonic Stem Cell Bank that will provide a ready source of human embryonic stem cells to scientists, ensure consistent quality of the lines and provide other technical support that will make it easier for scientists to use these lines. NIH is also creating three new Centers of Excellence for Translational Stem Cell Research with the goal of exploiting new discoveries in basic embryonic and stem cell biology.