President pledges to remove politics and ideology from science policy
President Obama has signed an executive order to overturn the eight-year-old policy restricting federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Flanked by a team of prominent scientific advisors during the official announcement on Monday, March 9, he promised to "vigorously support scientists who pursue this research."
By lifting the ban put in place by President Bush in 2001, the new order will allow researchers to apply for federal funds to study new stem cell lines. The order does not, however, overturn a congressional ban still in place that prohibits the use of federal money to develop new stem cell lines if embryos are destroyed in the process. That research will continue to be permitted with state or private funds.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will have 120 days to develop guidelines for expanded stem cell research. According to Reuters, President Obama's lead science adviser, Dr. Harold Varmus, has said that the NIH will take into consideration guidelines from the National Academies and the International Society for Stem Cell Research.
On Monday, President Obama also issued a presidential memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to "develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making" to ensure that his administration's policies will be based on science rather than politics or ideology.
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