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Stem Cell Researchers Celebrate Obama Victory, With Caveats

Reality BaseBy Melissa LafskyNovember 12, 2008 1:45 AM


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As we mentioned yesterday, the Obama administration is getting a running start, already gearing up to reverse Bush on topics from oil drilling to abortion. And stem cell research, which has been straining under the bonds of various federal funding bans since 1994. Earlier this year, Obama stated in his Science Debate 2008 response that he "strongly support[s] expanding research on stem cells," and that:

"As president, I will lift the current administration's ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight."

Skip forward to today, where democracy has spoken! Hooray for research! Scientists like George Daley, the former president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, along with many of his colleagues, are understandably thrilled. Granted, not everyone in the field is busting out the Kristal. In fact, some are even speculating that lifting the federal ban could hurt research efforts, since less money will now be funneled from the private sector. Take Dr. Paul Sanberg, director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida in Tampa, who told ABC News:

"Unless there is a boost in funding for this research at the NIH, it is highly likely that funding for currently allowed research will actually decrease as the pool of funds gets diluted by new applications.... Overall funding for stem cell research in our country could decrease if the states feel less inclined to fund their own stem cell initiatives in a downward economy, thinking that the federal government is now funding all stem cell research."

Given how much cash the feds are likely to have lying around for the next few years, Sanberg's prediction might not be so crazy. Related: RB: DISCOVER’s Science Policy Project: C. Everett Koop RB: GOP Moves to Stamp Out Embryonic Research; McCain (Hopefully) Disagrees

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