Stem cell case – valid?

So, as you’ve probably heard by now, a judge has blocked U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to expand the number of embryonic stem cell lines the government will fund research on, arguing it would violate federal law by destroying embryos.

The suit was brought by many people, including one James Sherley, whom readers may remember from 2007, when he went on a hunger strike after being denied tenure at MIT. Sherley argued that allocating funds to embryonic stem cell research would make it harder for him to get funding for his work with adult stem cells. And the judge agreed, according to the AP

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16 comments

  1. Brad says:

    The judge is ignorant. So many people can be helped with embryonic stem cell research. This argument from the plaintiff comes down to money. They want more grant money for their research of iPS. The greater good needs to be for man. The Dickey-Wicker amendment needs to be revoked.

  2. Marc Wathelet says:

    Well, adult stem cell work by Sherley took funding away from previous approaches to treat the same disease(s) without using adult stem cells… according to his logic he should have been sued by the scientists he outcompeted back then… can’t see any merit to his argument!

  3. Douglas Johnston says:

    AVM Biotechnology and Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute declare that their’s is A Match Made in Heaven! The self-described Faith Based Biotech Company is not a business but a church. motivated by morals, not money. Funding them at all crosses the line of church-state separation.

  4. Patrick Guire says:

    Courts should deal with stem cell and other research funding issues only if pertinent to interpretation of a law.

  5. Douglas Johnston says:

    Source for previous post:

    http://www.cogforlife.org/avm.htm

  6. Paul Stein says:

    Will this open a gargantuan can of worms? Does this mean that every single scientist who did not get his or her federal grant funded have standing to sue for damages? It is the only logical next step, as the peer review system does “threaten the very livelihood” of all of these future plaintiffs.

  7. Dawne Shelton says:

    This case and the argument made by the plaintiffs is absurd. Whether or not the Dickey-Wicker amendment needs to be changed is academic to this particular argument. Obama’s release of currently available stem cells lines for research does NOT violate federal law prohibiting destroying embryos. These lines have been long established, and are not currently usable as embryos. They are stem cell lines, grown in petri dishes, not embryos. Therefore work involving those lines already made is not destroying embryos.

    Further, since when does technological progress not “threaten the very livelihood” of poorer alternative technologies? If the science is valid and has something unique to offer the world, their so-called livelihood will endure. They just don’t want to deal with the competition. This is America, it’s all about competition and the belief that ultimately the best options will win out. Further, in this case, this should be decided by the scientific community at large. What could possibly be the judge’s level of expertise as to the value of this science as compared with the larger scientific community?

  8. David Eve says:

    Clearly if they believe that funding for embryonic stem cells will unfairly compete with their funding for adult stem cells , then they do not have faith in the ability of their cells to work, so why are they studying them in the first place?
    Personally I believe that both embryonic and adult stem cells have promise and therefore both should be funded. In many cases, one type may also be more appropriate than the other and therefore they are less likely to compete directly.

  9. Fred Schaufele says:

    If the legal finding were based solely on this argument, then it really is inane. Would not the ‘logical’ (more aptly illogical) continuation be for the embryonic stem cell community to sue the plaintiffs for the loss of their livelihood? How about grantees of the National Science Foundation suing grantees of the NIH, NASA, the DOE because their work in health, space and energy take away from NSF-funded science?

    As for the plaintiffs’ claims of damage, one could have argued convincingly that the demand for adult stem cell research was actually driven by the research initiated on embryonic stem cells. The plaintiffs’ livelihoods were actually enabled by the embryonic stem cell studies. The claim essentially states that any grant application by any scientist should not be scrutinized in open competition with other grants. Wonderful . I now can sue to have each of my grants funded, no matter how lousy they are.

    Let’s be honest. This is certainly NOT about competition for funding. It’s about certain research studies deemed inappropriate by a subsegment of society. Each society can regulate that as the population sees fit. But one shouldn’t cloak that opposition in spurious arguments. I am very surprised that this particular argument even worked. The defense lawyers must have been asleep at the wheel.

  10. Martha says:

    So now I understand _why_ he was denied tenure.

  11. W. A. Thomasson says:

    If the new guildelines result in greater federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, this will have a tiny but measurable effect on ALL other NIH-funded research. But not specifically on adult stem cell research. The argument that there is direct competition between embryonic and adult stem cell research, independent of all other research projects, simply has no basis in reality. It reminds me of the argument that we should not fund clean coal because it would supposedly take funds away from wind power.

    However, even this tiny effect is relevant to the narrow legal question of whether the plaintiffs so much as have standing to bring suit.

  12. Bruce says:

    To clarify some confusion:

    The court’s decision apparently turns mainly on the exact meaning of the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which prohibits using federal funds for, among other things, “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero.” The district court concluded that the plain meaning of this language does not permit compartmentalizing the research process. In the court’s words: “If one step or

  13. Robin says:

    The judge’s quoted argument could be used by anyone against anything they don’t like – a terrible precedent. And the plaintiffs should be fired for using a legal stick in place of rational argument to decide which research should be funded. People worry about fraud in science – well, that’s pretty bad, but how much worse is this new approach to “anti-grant applications”?

  14. Iwona Grad says:

    The pool proposed is weird. It puts two separate problems into one question. First – will the increased funding for embryonic stem cell research make it harder to obtain funding for adult stem cell work and the second – Should this be fought in the courts?
    In my opinion it is naive to think that two aspects of such closely related fields will not compete with each other for funding. They will. However sueing for refusing a grant goes much too far. All of the scientist should start it now – this idea will compete with that idea etc…

  15. George R. Lester says:

    I gained respect for MIT for denying Sherley tenure. Shame the Judge wasn’t denied ‘tenure’ on the court.
    Bush twice vetoed this subsequent efforts to drop this amendment. Why hasn’t the Congress brought it to Obama? Assume not needed in view of O’s regulation. Since the ‘Judge’ has undone Obama’s regulation, what is the Congress waiting for to correct this idiocy? Doing it before the November election, or after in a Lame Duck session, seems to be best hope of keeping this out of the hands of any anti-abortion judge the adult-cell boys (and/or girls) can locate to get another injunction.

  16. Mead Debra says:

    Is a Judge more powerfull then the President of the United States?