The Obama administration got another victory in its push for innovative scientific research today as a district court dismissed a challenge to the National Institutes of Health plan to move ahead with stem cell research.
The district court had originally issued an injunction, stopping the research moving forward. But in April that injunction was decisively overturned by an appeals court who in a 2-1 ruling held the case against the Obama administration would likely fail on the merits. That sent the case back to the district court who today held that it was bound by the appellate court’s analysis of the merits of the case. NIH funding for stem cell research can proceed.
The decision is an enormous victory for the scientific community who had applauded the appeals court’s ruling as one that “normalized” the policy of allowing embryonic stem-cell research so long as the cells are not derived using government funds.
One of President Obama’s first acts in office was to issue an executive order reversing the Bush years assault on stem cell research funding by restoring federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research and other types of research.
The Obama guidelines do not allow the use of federal dollars to create the stem cells but do allow researchers to work with stem cells made by another lab.
Dr. James Sherley of Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology brought the challenge, arguing the the guidelines would harm their work by increasing the competition for limited federal funding. Both work with adult stem cells and both oppose the use of embryonic cells.
Sherley and Deisher have vowed to take their fight all the way to the Supreme Court, so an appeal of today’s ruling is likely.
Photo from aeruginosa via flickr.