Posts Tagged ‘dickey-wicker’

Sherley v. Sibelius – The Undead Threat To Stem Cell Funding

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Green Energy Sources

When a three judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Cir. dismissed a preliminary injunction obtained by plaintiffs in April 2011, and the lower court judge then  dismissed plaintiffs’ suit to block the Administration’s guidelines permitting funding for embryonic stem cell research as violative of the Dickey-Wicker amendment banning funding that might destroy or harm a human embryo, I thought the issue had been laid to rest. However, plaintiffs – not the Government – have now appealed to the appeals court, arguing that the prior ruling overturning the injunction banning hESC research is not binding on the present panel.

The earlier panel had ruled that the  Dickey-Wicker amendment, that is tacked onto some bill sure to pass Congress each year, is ambiguous in view of the more precise policies urged by the Administration and the NIH, regulating hESC research. The plaintiffs argued that the earlier panel ruling simply involved injunctive relief and should not be “the law of the case” regarding the merits of their suit. Defendants and amici argued that the panel effectively analyzed the merits of the suit: the conflict or congruence between Dickey-Wicker and the NIH policy resuming funding for stem cell research.

If the current panel does not agree that it is bound by the earlier panel’s analysis and sides with the (anti-hESC research) plaintiffs, this case will wend its way to the Supreme Court. However, if the Administration changes in November, and a new Administration reinstates the “Bush ban,” the appeal will be moot. Those who support hESC research should hope that the stem cell researchers can get some grants funded and new cell lines approved  in the next six months or so. A pro-science door that has been open for about three years may be about to close.

Read the article from Regenerative Medicine Forum

Prior posts on this subject can be found here:

July 28, 2011

May 2, 2011

Appeals Court Overturns Stem Cell Ban

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

On April 29th, in Sherley v. Sebelius, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Cir., (a copy is available at the end of this post) overturned the injunction imposed by the district court, which had blocked the implementation of the 2009 NIH Guidelines on finding research using human embryonic stem cells. 74 Fed. Reg. 32170(2009). The Guidelines, in turn, had been formulated to implement President Obama’s  executive order 13505 that lifted President Bush’s executive order banning such funding. The suit, brought by two researchers working with adult stem cells, argued that the Guidelines were in conflict with the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Act, which banned funding for both research that would create human embryos for research purposes or would destroy human embryos. For more background, see my post of Sept. 1, 2010.

The Court found that preliminary injunction was improperly granted “because Dickey-Wicker is ambiguous and the NIH seems reasonably to have concluded that, although [D-W] bars funding for the destructive act of deriving an ESC from an embryo, it does not prohibit funding a research project in which an ESC will be used.”  In other words, if some other unfunded entity disassembles an unwanted embryo obtained with informed consent of the donor from an in vitro fertilization clinic and provides the ESCs to a researcher, the researcher can obtain federal funding to study them. Since establishing the Guidelines, the NIH has approved additional ESC lines for federal funding. While this is good news for researchers working with embryonic stem cell lines approved under the NIH Guidelines, the underlying suit will continue to threaten the administration’s more liberal view of stem cell research.

Sherley – 4-29-11 Documents and Order