In response to a lawsuit challenging current stem cell research funding, a U.S. District Court judge has issued an injunction temporarily stopping all government funding for human embryonic stem cell research pending the appeal process. As an advocate and a world leader in stem cell research at our Goldyne Savad Institute for Gene Therapy in Israel, Hadassah supports the administration’s efforts to remove this injunction.
The Justice Department argued this week for the injunction to be lifted to “avoid terminating research projects midstream, invalidating results in process and impeding years of scientific progress.” Each day that passes postpones vital research that holds the promise to treat and potentially cure many devastating diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis—illnesses which affect over 100 million Americans.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit (two adult-stem-cell researchers) filed the case to overturn the current funding policy, which they argue violates federal legislation prohibiting the use of federal tax money for research involving the destruction of human embryos. The court order prevents the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from providing $54 million to 24 projects already underway. Another 199 grants would also be discontinued, resulting in the loss of more than 1,300 full or part time jobs.
Hadassah has long been a strong supporter of genetic research and played an instrumental role in discovering the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes in 1996. In the spring of 2005, Hadassah Launched SOS: State of Stem Cells, an initiative designed to educate elected officials about the importance of embryonic stem cell research and advocate for legislation on the federal and/or state level. In 2006, Hadassah won the Genetics Policy Institute’s annual National Advocacy Award for its continued efforts on the issue and in 2007 Hadassah co-sponsored a two-day landmark Stem Cell Summit in Boston with the Genetics Policy Institute and Harvard Stem Cell Institute, among others.
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