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Senator Arlen Specter Politics has No Place in the Equation

I believe medical research should be pursued with all possible haste to cure the diseases and maladies affecting Americans. This is the time to seize the scientific opportunities that lie before us and to ensure that all avenues of research toward cures – including stem cell research – remain open for investigation.”

“The $10B for the National Institutes of Health that was included in stimulus package provided an immediate infusion of new research dollars for medical research to make up for a portion of what was lost since 2003 and has had tremendous influence on the biomedical research community. The successes realized by this investment in NIH have spawned revolutionary advances in our knowledge and treatment for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mental illnesses, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, ALS, and many others.”

“In their memorandum in support of dismissing the case before Judge Lamberth, the Department of Justice argued that “Congress has expressly interpreted Dickey-Wicker to permit federal funding for stem cell research that is ‘dependent upon’ the destruction of human embryos.” As part of this argument, they cited a floor statement I gave in 1999, in regard to the NIH’s fiscal year 2000 budget. In that statement, I explained that the budget for NIH maintained the Dickey- Wicker amendment by permitting research to go forward now with private funding extracting the stem cells from embryos, and then the federal funding coming in on the stem cells which have been extracted.”

“Judge Lamberth’s ruling has jeopardized NIH grants that are in various stages of research. In response to this court order, the NIH suspended funding new human embryonic stem cell research and all experiments already underway will be cut off when they come up for renewal. Even a temporary suspension of funding will disrupt the work on these important research projects in the areas of heart disease, sickle cell anemia, liver failure, muscular dystrophy and other maladies.”

“Though the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has granted a stay of Judge Lamberth’s temporary injunction while the Obama administration appeals the decision, the uncertainty created by the ruling slows the progress of science. Young scientists rightly void fields of science for which funding may come and go due to political whim rather than scientific and medical merit. A temporary end to the current restrictions is an incomplete and ultimately self-defeating solution.”

“I strongly believe that the funding provided by Congress should be invested in the best research to address diseases based on medical need and scientific opportunity. Politics has no place in the equation.”