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American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology reacts to stem-cell ruling

BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 2, 2010 The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology expressed its disapproval and disappointment this week in response to the Aug. 23 ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that granted a preliminary injunction barring federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research.

In a statement, the society said the decision, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by two adult stem-cell researchers, effectively halts human embryonic stem-cell research in the United States and "represents a crossroads in American scientific policy."

The society, which represents more than 12,000 scientists in both academia and industry worldwide, urged Congress to act swiftly to pass legislation that will restore federal funding to embryonic stem-cell researchers as to not further delay "potential medical cures for millions of sick Americans."

Meanwhile, the society said the ruling undercuts the "gold standard" peer-review process by allowing the merits of research projects to be determined by those on the judicial bench instead of those working at the laboratory bench: "Funding of basic biomedical research is not a zero-sum game in which particular lines of research are supported at the expense of others; rather, the system has evolved so that each proposal is evaluated on both its merits and its future benefits for easing the burden of disease."

The peer-review process "is by nature competitive," the statement said, and has "resulted in new biomedical methodologies and technologies that continue to benefit society at large."

"Constraining funding to a limited subset of applications will doubtless limit discovery and hurt those who rely on those discoveries the most."

ASBMB underscored its support for existing guidelines developed and enforced by the National Institutes of Health and for U.S. House Resolution 4808, commonly known as the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2009. The society said the guidelines in H.R. 4808, which have been approved by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, "balance respect for ethical concerns and scientific advancement."


Contact: Angela Hopp
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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