Vocabulary: 

Hematologist- A scientist who studies the functions and diseases of blood and blood-forming organs

Biophysicist- A scientist who applies physics to the study of biological processes and structures

Abortion- The removal of a fetus or embryo from the uterus to end a pregnancy

Moratorium- An authorized delay or suspension of an activity

Federal Funding- Money that comes from the U.S. Government to help pay for something

Ethicist- A person who writes or specializes in ethics 

NIH- The National Institutes of Health (stemcells.nih.gov/)

Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act- A bill that would have reversed the Dickey Amendment which made it legal for federal money to be used for research  where stem cells are derived from the destruction of an embryo.


 Ernest McCulloch (left) and Dr. James Till (right).




James Thomson an American Developmental Biologist known for deriving the first human embryonic stem cell line in 1998.

Stem Cell Research Timeline

The Beginning of Stem Cells

-February 1, 1961: The existence of stem cells was proved on by two scientists from Toronto, Ernest McCulloch, a hematologist, and Dr. James Till, a biophysicist. 

-July 12, 1974: Congress banned almost all federally funded fetal tissue research until guidelines were established. On this same day, the National Research Act was established to provide these guidelines. 

-1988: Federal funding of embryo research was approved, but three people argued that this research would increase abortions, so the moratorium on this research was extended.  

-1993: Congress and President Bill Clinton gave the NIH direct authority to fund human embryo research for the first time.  

-1994: Federal funding was halted again when thousands of letters persuaded him to undo his decision.

-1995: Congress used the Dickey-Wicker Amendment to ban federal funding for research on embryos. Four years later Harriet Rabb discovered this amendment didn’t apply to embryonic stem cell research because it didn’t fit the definition of an embryo, an unborn offspring that is developing. 

-1998: The creation of the first human embryonic stem cell by James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin.

-1999: Harriet Rabb, the top lawyer at the Department of Health and Human services, releases a legal option that would set the course for Clinton Administration Policy.

Establishing Guidelines

-April 1999: Harold Varmus gathered a committee including ethicists, lawyers, scientists, and patients to draft guidelines for federally funding embryonic stem cells. 

-1999 to 2000: These guidelines were developed, but presidential candidate George W. Bush stated his opposition to embryonic stem cell research through a campaign speech, so the NIH remained cautious and didn't entertain funding proposals until the presidential election was completed. 

-August 25, 2000: The NIH guidelines for Research Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells went into effect.

-August 2001: President Bush prohibited the federal funding of research using stem cells derived after August 9, 2001, however this did not affect private research or research conducted with state funding. 

-2001 to 2006: President George Bush signs an executive order which restricts federally-funded stem cell research on embryonic stem cells to the already derived cell lines. He supports federal funding for embryonic stem cell research on the already existing lines of approximately $100 million and $250 million for research on adult and animal stem cells. 

-November 2, 2004: California voters approved Proposistion 71, which provides $3 billion in state funds over 10 years to human embryonic stem cell research.

-May 5, 2006: Senator Rick Santorum introduces bill number S. 2754 the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, into the U.S. Senate.

-July 18, 2006: The U.S. Senate passes the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act H.R. 810 and votes down Senator Santorum's S. 2754

-July 19, 2006: President George Bush vetoes House Resolution 810 Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

-November 7, 2006: The people of Missouri passed Amendment 2, which allows usage of any stem cell research and therapy allowed under federal law, but prohibits human reproductive cloning.

-February 16, 2007: The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine became the biggest financial backer of human embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. when they awarded nearly $45 million in research grants.

-November 4, 2008: The people of Michigan pass Proposal 08-2, allowing Michigan researchers to make embryonic stem cell cultures from excess embryos donated from fertility treatments.

-January 23, 2009: The United States Food and Drug Administration approves clinical trials for human embryonic stem cell therapy.

-March 9, 2009: President Barack Obama signs an executive order reversing federal opposition to embryonic Stem Cell research.

-August 10, 2010: Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. Distric Court for the District of Columbia issued a temporary injunction blocking the federal government from implementing the current NIH guidelines "...ruling that experiments with such cells fall under an "unambiguous" 1996 law by Congress that prohibits federal funding of research that destroys human embryos."(Stem cell laws and policy in the United States)

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