NIH Issues Final Guidelines on Stem Cell Research

July 13, 2009

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On July 7, the final guidelines by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for determining stem cell lines eligible for extramural NIH-funded stem cell research went into effect. President Obama asked the NIH to develop these guidelines after he reversed an executive order limiting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research to 21 lines. The Academy supported this change and states in a position statement that such research should be conducted with strict oversight and strong ethical safeguards.

The NIH opened the draft guidelines to public comment in May and received approximately 49,000 comments. The AAN Professional Association also issued comments, many of which were incorporated into the final guidelines. The final guidelines establish realistic requirements for existing stem cell lines while providing clear standards for the development of all future lines. Additionally, they state that:

  • Embryos destroyed to make a stem cell line must have been discarded after an in vitro fertilization procedure
  • Donors must have been informed that the embryo would be destroyed for stem cell research and made fully aware of other options, which include donating the embryo to another couple
  • Donors cannot be paid for an embryo, and no threats or other inducement can be part of the couples' decision to donate

The Academy is a member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), which said these guidelines will allow for federal funding of research using many existing stem cell lines that previously had to rely on private funding, as well as for research on future stem cell lines derived consistent with the ethical standards in the guidelines.

"We applaud the National Institutes of Health for issuing clear and well-thought out guidelines for the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research," said Amy Comstock Rick, President of CAMR. "This will allow research that has been stifled for years to move forward—something the patient community has been advocating for since the restrictive federal policy was imposed by the previous Administration."

For questions or more information, contact Amy Kaloides at akaloides@aan.com.

Learn more about the Academy's position on stem cell research.