It turns out, they like us, or so they say. Biomedical researchers should take note that for the second year in a row, U.S. Senate appropriators have declared funding the National Institutes of Health a...


When presenting to the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus (CBRC), you want to best represent the work...

Legislative Alerts

A New Year, a New Congress—What This Means for the Biomedical Research Community

A session of Congress always brings changes and new experiences. In Washington, we are gearing up to face a new, more fiscally conservative Congress. Many of the newly elected Republicans were elected by campaigning for smaller government small and lower federal spending.

The new Republican majority in the House is reinvigorated and ready to make a real impact on the way Washington operates. One proposal being discussed is to cut the budgets of federal agencies to 2008 levels. If this were enacted, the appropriation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be 6.4% lower than FY2010 final levels and the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget would be 13% lower.

These cuts could devastate the research community. Since the end of the doubling of the NIH budget in 2003, funding for biomedical research has been erratic—resulting in a real decline in the amount of funding that is available to support medical breakthroughs and a new generation of scientists.

The research community has a strong supporter in the White House. In a press conference on November 3, the day after the election, President Barack Obama said he was opposed to cuts in research and development. This is a sign that the White House is likely to oppose such draconian actions by Republicans. "I don't think we should be cutting back on research and development, because if we can develop new technologies in areas like clean energy, that could make all the difference in terms of job creation here at home," President Obama said.

We will be monitoring the new political climate and will let you know when action is required to protect the funding of the Federal agencies that fund research in biology and medicine. It would be helpful at any time to let your elected officials know that you and your colleagues depend on Federal funds to support life science research and jobs in your region.

Research on Embryonic Stem Cells Threatened

The lawsuit challenging the legality of the Guidelines of U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research on Human Embryonic Stem Cell (NIH Guidelines) that implemented President Obama’s March 2009 Executive Order is slowly making its way through the courts.

The lawsuit argues that the NIH Guidelines violate a provision of the annual Appropriations bills for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education. The provision, known as the Dickey-Wicker provision, prohibits the use of federal funds to create human embryos for research purposes or for research in which embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk.

With an unclear future before the courts, action by Congress is the one clear path to ensure the continuation of federally funded human embryonic stem cell research. Given uncertain election outcomes in November, Congress needs to pass a bill now to fix Dickey-Wicker and allow research to continue.

This lawsuit also directly challenges the peer review process and scientific decision-making and scientific freedom, since it could establish a precedent for lawsuits to halt the funding of peer reviewed research proposals.

Even if you do not work on stem cells, the implications of this lawsuit should concern you. A reinvigorated Dickey-Wicker provision, reinterpreted by the current lawsuit, could directly affect the fields of embryology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and clinical IVF research.

If Congress does not act before the end of 2010 and the elections in November do not favorably support the American biological research enterprise, it could be years before federal funding would be again available for critical portions of NIH funded life science research in America. You need to take action now.

To take action, simply visit this site: Type your zip code in the box to your right. You will be automatically forwarded to a sample letter. You can edit the letter and send it to your elected officials right from this site.

We encourage you to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues.

CLS Releases Public Statement on Stem Cell Ruling

Today, Dr. Keith Yamamoto, Chair of the Coalition for the Life Sciences, issued a strong statement in response to Federal District Court Judge Royce Lamberth’s preliminary injunction blocking President Obama’s 2009 executive order expanding funding for human embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. He stressed, “Amidst this legal sparring, those who stand to be truly injured by this ruling are patients and their families who desperately need therapies and cures for disease, those who suffer daily from chronic and fatal disorders.”

Judge Lamberth ruled that the Dickey-Wicker amendment signals the “unambiguous” intent of Congress to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds on research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed. Yet at least two Congresses (one Democrat and one Republican-controlled) and three Presidential Administrations (Clinton, Bush, and Obama) saw no contradiction between Dickey-Wicker and federal funding for ESC research.

On behalf of the CLS, Dr. Yamamoto urged Congress to quickly and decisively pass legislation that ensures continued federal funding to support research on stem cells derived from human embryos. This research, while still in its infancy, was moving forward with great momentum. If this ruling is not overturned, all the promising federal funded research using ESCs will be halted by summer 2011.  Dr. Yamamoto went on to say, “As researchers who depend heavily on federal funds for our work—including research on ESCs—we enter our labs every day with the hope that we will uncover causes and discover new treatments and cures for disease. ESC lines are bright beacons for that research. Federal funding ensures that this research receives full public scrutiny and that the public interest is protected.”

The CLS will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that this vital research will continue.

Click here to view a copy of the letter the CLS sent to Capitol Hill.