Public Affairs

Public Affairs

Court Rules for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

On April 29, a US Court of Appeals Panel in the District of Columbia overturned a judge’s order that would have blocked federal financing of stem cell research. The judges ruled that opponents are not likely to succeed in their lawsuit to stop the government funding. Reacting to the decision, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins wrote in a statement the same day, “I am delighted and relieved to learn of the decision of the Court of Appeals. This is a momentous day—not only for science, but for the hopes of thousands of patients and their families who are relying on NIH-funded scientists to pursue life-saving discoveries and therapies that could come from stem cell research.” The White House spokesman also called it a victory for scientists and patients.

In making this ruling, the panel reversed an opinion issued last August by US District Judge Royce Lamberth, who said the research was probably a violation of the law against federal funding of embryo destruction. The lawsuit against the US Department of Health and Human Services was filed in 2009 by two scientists who argued that the expansion of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research created by President Barack Obama’s
executive order jeopardized their ability to win government funding for research using adult stem cells because of additional competition from researchers using embryonic stem cells.

The plaintiffs in the case can file an appeal.

New NIH Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group

NIH has formed a new working group that will examine the future of the biomedical research workforce in the United States. The group will recommend actions to the Advisory Committee to the Director to ensure a diverse and sustainable biomedical and behavioral research workforce. According to the announcement, the new working group will gather input on the workforce from the extramural community, including students, postdoctoral fellows, investigators, scientific societies, and grantee institutions. In addition, the group will develop a model for a sustainable and diverse biomedical research workforce using appropriate expertise from NIH and external sources. NIH Director Collins asked for the group to be formed at the January 2011 meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director. To see a list of the members of the working group, go to http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2011/od-27.htm.

NIGMS Releases Strategic Plan for Research Training

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) released Investing in the Future, the Institute’s strategic plan for biomedical and behavioral research training programs, in late April. The plan focuses on four key themes, including shared responsibility for research training; research training that focuses on student development; breadth and fl exibility in training programs to keep pace with opportunities and demands of contemporary science; and advancing diversity across the research enterprise. Investing in the Future considers training activities both supported on training grants and fellowships and supported through research project grants. The plan strongly encourages the development of
training plans in all research grant applications that request support for graduate students or postdoctoral trainees. For more information, see the announcement at http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2011/nigms-28.htm.

June 2011 Table of Contents