April 29, 2011

NIH and USDA News Today

By Christy Gullion

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction entered by the district court and ruled in favor of the National Institutes of Health and the Administration’s policy on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). The ruling states the following: 

“We conclude the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail because Dickey-Wicker is ambiguous and the NIH seems reasonably to have concluded that, although Dickey-Wicker bars funding for the destructive act of deriving an ESC [embryonic stem cell] from an embryo, it does not prohibit funding a research project in which an ESC will be used. We therefore vacate the preliminary injunction.”

As you might recall, last August, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth had ruled in favor of two scientist plaintiffs and issued a preliminary injunction that briefly blocked federally funded embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that NIH’s 2009 hESC guidelines violated Dickey-Wicker. Today’s decision vacating that injunction can be viewed here.   There is still the possibility of an appeal. 

Also in the news today, Dr. Roger Beachy, the current Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at USDA, will resign as Director effective May 20, 2011 to spend more time with his family. In the interim, Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young will be named as Acting Director of NIFA.

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