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Lift Restrictions on Federal Stem Cell Funding

President Barack Obama should issue an executive document lifting the existing temporal restriction on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

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It is time for the United States to stake its claim as the world leader in regenerative medicine, which promises to become a vital component of the cutting edge of life sciences research and innovation in the 21st century. To ensure research in this newly emerging field of life sciences is conducted responsibly and ethically, the federal government must reform its stem cell research policy in order to fund embryonic stem cell research that is robust and comprehensive as well as cautious and principled.

The first step toward renewing U.S. life sciences leadership must be taken by the executive branch. President Barack Obama has the option of either issuing an executive order or issuing a presidential memorandum to govern stem cell research. Either way, the primary objective of the executive document must be to lift the existing temporal restriction on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Currently, federal funding is only available for research on the 21 lines of embryonic stem cells that were derived before August 9, 2001. Once this arbitrary limit is lifted, the National Institutes of Health would be able to issue grants to scientists who wish to research embryonic stem cells in accordance with ethical guidelines.

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