We are pleased that the President has decided to endorse federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, acknowledging its potential therapeutic value for the millions of Americans now suffering from debilitating diseases. The deliberative and reflective process in which the President engaged to develop the Administration’s policy testifies to the seriousness with which this matter is viewed by people throughout the world. As scientists, we share the President’s concern that stem cell research proceed in an ethical manner that engenders confidence in the American public. Indeed, we explored these subjects in depth in our 1999 report, Stem Cell Research and Applications: Monitoring the Frontiers of Biomedical Research.
How the Administration’s policy is implemented will be the real test of whether the approach the President has chosen—limiting researchers with federal funding to the use of existing stem cell lines—will be sufficient to achieve the advances in science necessary to realize promising new treatments and cures for disease. AAAS believes that several key matters will need to be resolved before the promise of the new policy can be fairly assessed.
Federal funding for all types of stem cell research is essential so that the scientific community can better understand the potential value and limitations of each of the available areas and so that those challenged daily by serious diseases may one day hope that the efforts of their government will bring relief for their suffering. As a step in that direction, it is essential that the scientific community report to the American public and to our government officials in the months ahead on whether the resources available–both cell lines and funding–will be adequate to realize the full benefits we believe this research can yield.