A letter to President Bush

Sunday, July 15, 2001

The White House
Washington D.C.
President George W. Bush

Dear President Bush,

I am a spinal cord injury researcher and have been deeply concerned by the delays in the decision to allow the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund human embryonic stem cell research. I believe, as do the vast majority of my fellow neuroscientists, that human embryonic stem cell research is key to many important therapies that will restore function to people with spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders. I also believe that a decision to allow NIH to fund human embryonic research will markedly reduce the currently unbridled use of embryos and fetuses by private companies.

Please accept my sincere compliments and applause for your thoughtful attempts to find reasonable compromises to this difficult situation. Several weeks ago, I understood that you were considering a compromise where NIH would be allowed to fund human embryonic stem cell research that utilizes only already-established cell lines and to have a sunset clause on the rule such that the embryonic stem cell research can be stopped when adult stem cells become available for research and therapy.

This compromise may satisfy some who are opposed to human embryonic stem cell research but, in my opinion, will be unacceptable to many patient advocacy groups for the following reasons. First, it is not clear that we currently have enough and appropriate embryonic stem cell lines. There are probably thousands of different kinds of stem cells and the existing ones may not be suitable for all diseases. Second, a sunset clause, particularly if it is a short period of 3-5 years, would be too restrictive because there are no guarantees that human adult stem cell work will have progressed far enough in such a short time to substitute for embryonic stem cells.

Therefore, I would like to suggest the following alternative compromise which I believe

Contact: Joseph Blumberg
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

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