NIH resumes stem cell funding after court lifts injunction

The ruling temporarily permits research grants while a three-judge appeals panel considers revoking an earlier ban.

By — Posted Sept. 20, 2010

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The National Institutes of Health is restarting funding of embryonic stem cell research after an appeals court temporarily lifted a lower court's ban against it.

NIH officials said Sept. 10 that they again will consider about 50 embryonic stem cell research proposals up for initial funding or renewal in the next months, including 22 proposals in line for a total of $54 million by Sept. 30.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia temporarily lifted the Aug. 23 ban on federal embryonic stem cell research while it considers arguments for and against the injunction.

"We are pleased with the court's interim ruling, which will allow promising stem cell research to continue while we present further arguments to the court in the weeks to come," NIH said in a statement.

In August, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that federal law prohibits any federal funding of research that destroys human embryos, citing language in the Dickey-Wicker amendment, a provision added to HHS appropriations bills annually since 1996.

The Dept. of Health and Human Services, on behalf of the NIH, is seeking to have the injunction permanently removed.

Plaintiffs who won the injunction in a lower court, including two researchers who use nonembryonic stem cells, filed a motion on Sept. 14 to restore the ban. HHS had until Sept. 20 to file its motion on the injunction.

The appeals court said lifting the ban is not evidence that it supports or opposes either party's arguments in the case.

The plaintiffs, which include the Christian Medical & Dental Assns., an adoption agency and others, are still confident they will prevail, said Steve Aden, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, part of the plaintiffs' legal team. The alliance takes on cases involving religious freedom.

"We're still looking forward to briefing the case and ultimately prevailing, because we think the law is clear," Aden said.

He said an appeals court decision could come days after both sides file their arguments. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs' legal team filed a motion Sept. 9 asking for a permanent injunction. Lamberth could rule on that motion before the appeals court issues its ruling, Aden said.

Lisa Hughes, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, said Congress needs to intervene by adopting a measure to end the ban on federal funding of stem cell research.

"It is crucial that federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research be restored permanently, and this stay is a step in that direction," she said.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn