Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chapter Two of 'Waiting for Obama' -- The Vagaries of Vagueness

President Obama's delay in announcing changes in federal restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research today triggered another article on the resulting nervousness in stem cell circles.

This one came in the Washington Post. Written by Rob Stein, the piece, intended for publication Thursday, said,
"...{T)he delay and the vague language (from the administration) are making proponents nervous. Has Obama simply been too preoccupied with the economic crisis to focus on the issue? Is he hesitant to wade into one of the flashpoints of the culture wars? Could he even be considering a moderate move as part of his broad strategy of seeking the middle ground on even the most contentious issues?

"'The word the president is 'considering' it is too vague a word for me," (Amy Comstock Rick (of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research) said. 'I don't know entirely what that means. If it means he's just working out the details that's great. But if 'considering' means 'reconsidering' we would be very upset.'"
Stein said the White House has reassured the worriers that something will happen soon. He also quoted Story Landis(see photo), head of the NIH stem cell task force, as saying,
"We are assuming that what we will be asked to do is develop guidelines for stem cell lines derived from embryos produced for reproductive purposes in excess of need."
But Stein added,
"Proponents of the research hope the executive order and resulting NIH guidelines would be more open-ended than that, allowing research on stem cells derived in other ways."
Landis' advice to researchers? If you are smart, start writing your grant now.

(Editor's note: Chapter One of "Waiting for Obama" can be found here.) Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

  1. Jeanne Loring9:08 PM

    I don't believe that President Obama is waffling on the stem cell issue. I think he's planning for a lasting, legal solution. Many people (including me) were under the impression that President Bush's August 9, 2001 decision to allow federal funding for hESCs was an Executive Order. It wasn't.

    Bush did issue an Executive Order more recently, directing the NIH to change the name of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry to the "Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry", and invite submissions of non-embryonic pluripotent cell lines. The NIH did this, quietly, a couple of months ago.

    The lasting solution is to allow the legislature to enact a change in the law.. if Obama were to issue an Executive Order to overturn Bush's...whatever it was..., then the next president can just reverse it again.