Sunday, November 09, 2008

Waiting For Barack: Don't Hold Your Breath on Stem Cell Cash

Signals are emerging from the Obama team that the president-elect will move quickly to overturn President Bush's restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. However, that may not necessarily translate to a rush of big dollars at the national level.

On Sunday, the leader of Obama's transition team, John Podesta, indicated that the president-elect would move quickly with executive orders that do not require Congressional action, which can drag on for months if not years.

Podesta mentioned stem cell research specifically as one area that Obama could move on immediately.

Podesta's comments followed something along the same lines last week from Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he enunciated a credo for the new administration:
"Do what you got elected to do."
He said "bucket No. 1" for the Obama administration would be children's health care. Second comes ending restrictions on stem cell research. Third is an economic recovery package.

Earlier this year, CIRM Chairman Robert Klein speculated that the Obama administration, beset by a host of enormous issues, would be slow to act on stem cell research. Klein suggested that Congressional action would be needed.

While that does not appear to be the case at this point, transition teams sometimes have trouble getting their act together and priorities can change.

What is certain is that the NIH is suffering from a financial squeeze. Until that squeeze is relieved and the necessary bureaucratic grant-making procedures are completed, don't expect to see large sums flowing into human embryonic stem cell research from the feds. Plus, other worthy scientific research will be fighting for the dollars that might go to the stem cell cause.

Indeed, the existence of such programs as California's $3 billion stem cell research effort could serve as a justification for the feds to hold back on beefed-up hESC research funding at the national level. Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Post a Comment