Update for UW investigators on use of human embryonic stem cells

On Monday, August 23, 2010, a federal district judge issued a preliminary injunction to stop the NIH from applying the current Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research or otherwise funding research involving the destruction of human embryonic stem cells (hESC).  The University of Wisconsin Stem Cell Research Oversight (SCRO) Committee in conjunction with Legal Services has reviewed the opinion and considered many options for how to proceed.  It is important to keep in mind that the injunction is preliminary, which means that the case has not been decided on the merits, and the final outcome is unknown at this point.

Late yesterday, after consultation with the federal Department of Justice, NIH issued a short statement regarding how it intends to proceed in light the injunction.  NIH has promised a more in depth analysis to come shortly.  A summary of that statement follows:

Current grantees – those who have received their award already may continue with their research.  NIH will freeze the funds for the 22 grants due for annual renewal (non-competing renewals) by September 30, 2010.

Grants in the review process – initial peer review or recommended for consideration by the advisory council will be pulled from further consideration at this time.

At this point, UW-Madison has no intention of stopping any research on hESC using federal funds previously awarded.  It may be quite some time before we know the final outcome as the court must hear the case and decide it on the merits, at which point an appeal is likely.  However, there is a chance that the final decision in this case may end federal funding for all hESC research.  Please begin to prepare yourself for this possible outcome. In order to avoid conflict that may be associated with the use of unapproved hES cell lines using federal funded supplies or equipment, WiCell has a limited amount of space that you can use to continue your research using non-federal funding sources. Please contact Erik Forsberg, (608) 334-7876,, to inquire about this alternative.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Heather Mc Fadden, SCRO Manager, 608-890-2468, for clarification.

Sue Gilbert
Office Operations Associate
Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center