September 26, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Obama giving up on embryonic stem cell research?

Obama stem cellsIs Obama bailing out on support for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR)?

As even casual readers of this blog easily surmise, I am a supporter of President Obama. I believe he has done a good job in his first term and deserves re-election. I also believe Romney would not be a good president, particularly as it relates to science and stem cell research.

However, I have been critical of Obama for not more publicly supporting ESCR, especially as it pertains to the current federal case challenging federal funding of ESCR. I even issued a public letter to Obama asking him to support ESCR as well as legislation that would explicitly codify that federally funded ESCR is legal,  and comment on that federal case. No such comment ever appeared. I also was critical of Obama for proposing a flat 2013 NIH budget.

In short, I try to be a straight shooter and that means even though I support Obama overall I’m going to blog about areas where I think he should do better.

With that in mind, I now ask:

just how strong is Obama’s commitment to ESCR?

I’m starting to have my doubts.

The White House released a document yesterday a 43-page “Bioeconomic Blueprint” (big PDF) for America. This is very important document.

In reading a White House press release on this occasion, I was extremely disappointed.

The White House only made one mention of one of the most exciting areas in the biomedical field and one with the potential for the greatest impact: stem cell research. In addition the only mention of stem cells was phrased in a very surprising way:

…accelerate research on non-embryonic stem cells as possible treatments for blood-related and neurological diseases.

That’s it. What the heck?

What about the promise of embryonic stem cells?

To go out of their way to explicitly only mention “non-embryonic stem cells” seems to indicate this is more than an oversight.

Rather, I suspect it is a political calculation to avoid controversy in an election year. I can understand pragmatism, but I also am one to appreciate having the guts to take stands on important issues. Particularly with the federal case against ES cell research in a potential final showdown in a federal appeals court (some believe the Supreme Court might refuse to hear the case, making the Appeals Court the final “decider-in-chief as Bush Jr might have said), it would seem an especially important time for Obama to stand up and show his support.

I’m very disappointed. Mr. Obama, I’m a big fan, but we in the stem cell field need your support at this crucial juncture.

If you are too, contact the White House and let them know. You can email here or…..

Call the President

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