Scientists Appeal Ruling Allowing Federal Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Oct 04, 2011   

On September 19, 2011, two scientists who have been challenging government funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research filed their Notice of Appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking relief from the District Courts July 27, 2011 Order dismissing their complaint and attempting to revive their case to block federal funding of hESC research.

As previously reported, the District Court granted the governments Motion for Summary Judgment in July. In granting summary judgment and dismissing the Plaintiffs claims, the Court found that the National Institute of Health (NIH) Guidelines, which permit federal funding for hESC research, did not violate federal law. While the Plaintiffs argued that the Guidelines violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibits funding for “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed,” the Court found that the NIH Guidelines do not violate this mandate because embryos are not actually subject to destruction during such research. Found here, the Court reasoned as follows:

The NIH reasonably concluded that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibited federal funding for research projects “in which” human embryos are knowingly subjected to risk, such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, but did not prohibit research projects, such as embryonic stem cell research, that do not involve embryos and so cannot knowingly subject them to risk “in” the research.

Because the Court found that the Guidelines promulgated by NIH were a permissible interpretation of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, the Court concluded that the Guidelines did not contravene federal law and dismissed the Plaintiffs claims. While it is yet to be seen what the plaintiffs in the case will argue its appeal, Fuerst Ittleman will continue to closely monitor the progress in this case, as well as other issues pertaining to stem cell research.

If you have any questions pertaining to NIH Guidelines, or stem cell funding issues generally, contact Fuerst Ittleman PL at