The Niche

Submit your stem cells

By Elie Dolgin, cross-posted from the Great Beyond

stem_cell_colony03-m_M.jpgThe National Institutes of Health started accepting applications today to evaluate which human embryonic stem cells will be eligible for federal dollars.

A panel of nine scientists, lawyers and ethicists — led by Jeffrey Botkin of the University of Utah — will scrutinize submissions to ensure that they meet the new requirements for informed consent from embryo donors. The working group’s “expertise and sound judgment will help NIH move forward in this important effort,” NIH director Francis Collins, who will have the final say on the eligibility of particular lines, said in a statement.

The panel will review cell lines made before the guidelines went into effect on 7 July. Fundable lines must be derived from leftover embryos that were created solely for assisted reproduction and donated voluntarily with no financial incentives.

“We’re open for business in a new era,” Lana Skirboll, director of policy at NIH, told Nature. The working group has not yet appraised any cell lines — including the 21 lines approved under former President George W. Bush, which will need to be reassessed — and will start considering particular cells after scientists submit their petitions on the NIH website. “The speed at which this moves is really in the hands of the scientific community at this point,” she said.

Having a mechanism in place to expand the number of eligible cell lines “is what we’ve been working toward for a very long time,” said M. William Lensch, a stem cell researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Harvard Medical School, who expects to start submitting requests “sooner rather than later.”

Image: James Thomson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Editor’s note:

(See related story: An analysis suggesting that the NIH did not properly evaluate informed consent by donors of embryos from which stem cell lines were derived throw oversight committees into disarray )

Also, see below a list of the other members of the panel and for links to a critical analysis of the ethical review conducted under President George W. Bush’s administration.


According to a statement form the NIH, the members of Working Group for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Eligibility Review are the following.

Dena S. Davis, J.D., Ph.D., professor of law, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University, Ohio

Pamela B. Davis, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio

David A. Grainger, M.D., M.P.H., director, Center for Reproductive Medicine; associate dean for research; professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; director, director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology; University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita

Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Department of Genetics; professor of genetics, medicine and molecular biophysics and biochemistry; investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale School of Medicine, Conn.

Bernard Lo, M.D., professor of medicine; director, Program in Medical Ethics; Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Terry Magnuson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Genetics of the School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jeffrey C. Murray, M.D., professor of neonatology and genetics; professor of biological sciences, dentistry, and epidemiology in the College of Public Health; Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa Children’s Hospital;

Carlos Pavão, M.P.A., training and technical specialist, Education Development Center. Inc., Atlanta, Ga.; member, NIH Director’s Council of Public Representatives

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