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NIH shuts down its own stem cell research

The National Institutes of Health Monday ordered all of its researchers conducting research on human embryonic stem cells to immediately halt their experiments.

The move came in response to a temporary injunction issued last week by a federal judge barring the federal government from funding research involving human embryonic stem cells. The judge ruled that the research violated a federal law banning the federal government from funding any research involving the destruction of human embryos.

NIH Director Francis Collins announced last week that the ruling was forcing the agency to shelve any requests for new funding for the research from scientists at universities, colleges, research institutes and elsewhere around the country. Researchers who had grants that had been awarded before the ruling could keep working, the NIH said. But the NIH would not renew any grants that have already been awarded when they come up for renewal. Monday's announcement extended that decision to any researchers who work at the NIH itself.

The NIH has eight research projects that use human embryonic stem cells, as well as a unit that characterizes lines added to the NIH registry of approved cells.

Here's the text of the e-mail the NIH sent out this morning:

HHS has determined that the recent preliminary injunction ordered by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the matter of Sherley v. Sebelius is applicable to the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in intramural research projects. In light of this determination, effective today August 27, 2010, all intramural scientists who use hESC lines should initiate procedures to terminate these projects. Procedures that will conserve and protect the research resources should be followed.

All intramural Principal Investigators using hESCs should succinctly describe what research will be terminated, provide the parent annual report number (if the project is associated with one from FY 2009 or before), and describe any alternate use of funds that will become available as a result of this action. This information should be sent to the IC SD and a copy should be sent to Dr. Michael Gottesman, Deputy Director for Intramural Research.

Please contact me if you have questions.

Michael Gottesman, M.D.

Deputy Director for Intramural Research, NIH

The Justice Department plans to appeal the judge's ruling.

By Rob Stein  |  August 30, 2010; 5:28 PM ET
Categories:  stem cells  
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