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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Support for Stem Cell Research and More

Barack Obama, stem cell research

President Obama signs an executive order lifting the restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research. Photo: Reuters

"The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions. If scientific and technological information is developed and used by the Federal Government, it should ordinarily be made available to the public. To the extent permitted by law, there should be transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policy making. The selection of scientists and technology professionals for positions in the executive branch should be based on their scientific and technological knowledge, credentials, experience, and integrity."

Listen up. On Monday, March 9, 2009, The Prez did something exceedingly important to all of us. He lifted the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. He left no doubt in the purpose of this order. "The purpose of this order," The Prez states, " is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind."

This order speaks of the funding for such important research going through the channels of the NIH (National Institute of Health) and monitored by HHS (Health and Human Services). Section 2 and 3 read:

"Sec. 2. Research. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law.

Sec. 3. Guidance. Within 120 days from the date of this order, the Secretary, through the Director of NIH, shall review existing NIH guidance and other widely recognized guidelines on human stem cell research, including provisions establishing appropriate safeguards, and issue new NIH guidance on such research that is consistent with this order. The Secretary, through NIH, shall review and update such guidance periodically, as appropriate."

But this order does something more. While acknowledging other views and saying those views should be respected, The Prez nonetheless puts folks like right-wing Republicans on notice that his administration will be guided by science and its potential for the American people and the rest of the world.

To further support his Executive Order, The Prez issued his "Memorandum for Heads of Departments and Agencies." The memorandum expounds on his administration's reliance on science:

"Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security."

The Prez Executive Order lifting the ban on funding research and his concomitant memorandum on his administration's support of science is not just good for the scientific research community. It is good for our country. Yes, it allows scientists to catch on stem cell research, but, more importantly, it places the Obama administration's policies and actions on a sound footing with science and not religious and political rhetoric. And in practical terms, it means that our nation is getting closer to solving health problems like diabetes, Lou Gehrig's disease, paralysis, autism, cancer, alzheimers, and other illnesses.

This is change the scientific community and most Americans can believe in.
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Below is The Prez's Executive Order

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________
For Immediate Release March 9, 2009

EXECUTIVE ORDER

- - - - - - -

REMOVING BARRIERS TO RESPONSIBLE SCIENTIFIC
RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN STEM CELLS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. Research involving human embryonic stem cells and human non-embryonic stem cells has the potential to lead to better understanding and treatment of many disabling diseases and conditions. Advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging, leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by Federal funds.

For the past 8 years, the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been limited by Presidential actions. The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind.

Sec. 2. Research. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law.

Sec. 3. Guidance. Within 120 days from the date of this order, the Secretary, through the Director of NIH, shall review existing NIH guidance and other widely recognized guidelines on human stem cell research, including provisions establishing appropriate safeguards, and issue new NIH guidance on such research that is consistent with this order. The Secretary, through NIH, shall review and update such guidance periodically, as appropriate.

Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Sec. 5. Revocations. (a) The Presidential statement of August 9, 2001, limiting Federal funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells, shall have no further effect as a statement of governmental policy.

(b) Executive Order 13435 of June 20, 2007, which supplements the August 9, 2001, statement on human embryonic stem cell research, is revoked.

7 comments:

MountainLaurel said...

My grandmother died after a 10-year struggle with Alzheimer's, as did her mother. I know what road I face with my father. This is why I was dancing in the streets when I heard this.

MadMike said...

I had a similar reaction MountainLaurel. It is so nice to wake up in the morning knowing that our country finally has a leader who will represent us. It is nice to wake up in the morning filled with optimism for our future. I remember during the previous 8 years of darkness waking up filled with a sad and lazy despair. Our new president gives me hope.

rainywalker said...

Stem Cell research is long overdue and has unlimited potential for saving lives in the future. Finally we are catching up with the rest of the world.

MacDaddy said...

Mountain/Madmike, rainy:

Not only the science community, but the entire medical profession and lots of folks with illness in their families are happy with this decision...If the economy shows any signs of getting better, The Prez will be re-elected by a landslide. What he has done in 50 (today is the 50th) has just been awesome!

judy said...

I guess I don't have to tell you how happy it makes me to have a president who actually believes science can save lives and change the world, as opposed to one that believes in the manipulation of science in support of backward policies.

Vigilante said...

Yes! Yes! The shackles and leg-irons are stripped from the ankles of American medical science! One more area where 21st Century & Post-Bush America has been forced to play catch-up with the rest of the the world.

MacDaddy said...

Vigilante: You say it so well. The Republican right wing will hate Obama even more, saying he is killing babies. But he is staking his chances with science and our common sense. I think most Americans are on his side on this one.