Tag Archives: Sherley v. Sebelius

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: First 100 Days

Dear Research Advocate,

With all the conversation about the debt ceiling and tax and entitlement reform, it may surprise you to know that an additional topic is on many minds. A wide majority of Americans, 72%, say the new Congress and the president should take action to expand medical research within the first 100 days of the new legislative session. See this and more in America Speaks, Volume 13, a compilation of national poll data providing insights into public sentiment on key research-related issues. See our press release and download the full Poll Data Summary. These polling results are designed to be used in your advocacy and outreach!

Among the growing number of issues that need to be resolved by the new Congress is the medical device tax, which could send research jobs overseas and shrink a critical segment of our innovation economy. In The Hill, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) writes about the consequences the tax could have on the medical device industry, including the possibility of a massive decline in R&D investment. As our economy recovers, policy makers must better incentivize R&D investment to keep our nation competitive and ensure that companies are continuing to invest in life-saving research.

More on the first 100 days: As you know, the sequestration deadline has been moved two months, with another delay possible, and there is talk of other cuts to discretionary spending. The delay is terribly frustrating for those planning research investment and sends a very negative message to young scientists planning a career, but it does buy us more time to make our case. The Washington Post published an op-ed by three Washington, DC, institutional members of Research!America that argues compellingly for such funding. Take action now and do two things — collaborate with your local colleagues to write an op-ed for a local publication and send an email to your representatives. Tailor the alert we provide to let them know how cuts could affect your institution and your community.

For those of you in Georgia, the appointment of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) as chairman of the committee that allocates most of the federal funding for biomedical and health research funding presents an important advocacy opportunity. Research!America is helping to facilitate collective action by Georgia institutions, and we would welcome your participation. Please contact Max Bronstein, director of science policy, if you haven’t heard from us yet! Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss Rep. Kingston’s record and prospects for the 113th Congress with Randy Barrett of the ScienceInsider.

Great news! The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on behalf of patients and stem cell researchers, effectively bringing to a close the infamous Sherley v. Sebelius case that threatened federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This decision marks a major victory for the stem cell research cause, but it is critical that all of us remain vigilant; actions at the state level could still curtail embryonic stem cell research. View our press statement on the decision and our updated resource page on stem cell research. We will be talking about the importance of stem cell research when we honor the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) at our upcoming Advocacy Awards dinner. See more about this March 13, 2013, event here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley Applauds Supreme Court’s Dismissal of Embryonic Stem Cell Case

January 9, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court’s dismissal of Sherley v. Sebelius, a case intended to block federal funding for scientists conducting embryonic stem cell research, is a victory for patients and the research community. This key decision will allow the continuation of federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, providing essential support for scientists to conduct lifesaving research. Embryonic stem cells, which can repair or replace damaged tissue and organs, have advanced research aimed at finding cures and therapies to treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders including vision impairment, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis.  Clinical trials have also shown promising therapeutic applications to help fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and other disabling illnesses. We applaud the ruling and will continue to support such innovative research that could save millions of lives.

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Supreme Court Rejects Request to Ban Federally Funded ESCR

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not hear a case that challenged the legality of federally funded human embryonic stem cell research.

The case, Sherley v. Sebelius, was brought by two researchers of induced pluripotent stem cells, James Sherley, MD, PhD, and Theresa Deisher, PhD in 2009. They argued that guidelines concerning government funding of hESC, adopted by the Obama administration, were in violation of the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment. The amendment forbids the Department of Health and Human Services — including the National Institutes of Health — from using appropriated funds to either create embryos for research purposes or conduct research in which embryos are destroyed.

After an initial ruling in 2010 in favor of the plaintiffs, an injunction was issued that allowed research to continue. Eventually, both the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found in favor of the government. The plaintiffs appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case and offered no further comment in Monday’s order.

Stem cell research advocates were pleased with the ruling.

“This is a major victory for scientifically and ethically responsible innovative research,” Bernard Siegel, spokesperson for the Stem Cell Action Coalition and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute, said in a statement. “With the cloud of this case lifted, researchers can now rest assured that the challenge to the NIH’s 2009 guidelines for funding for embryonic stem cell research is over. Patients and their advocates can now rejoice that this potentially life-saving research can proceed at the federal level.”

The ruling is “a victory for scientists, patients and the entire biomedical research community. Science can now continue to move forward, knowing the threat to promising research and funding has been eliminated,” said Amy Comstock Rick, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, according to ScienceInsider.

In a statement, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, reaffirmed the agency’s dedication to ESCR.

“I am very pleased with today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline to review the Sherley v. Sebelius U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. This decision allows the ruling to stand, and enables NIH to continue conducting and funding stem cell research, following the strict ethical guidelines put in place in 2009. Patients and their families who look forward to new therapies to replace cells lost by disease or injury, or who may benefit from new drugs identified by screening using stem cells, should be reassured that NIH will continue supporting this promising research.”