NIH Plans Ethics Review of Proposals

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Science  16 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5413, pp. 413-415
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5413.413

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week inched forward on its commitment to fund research on human embryonic stem cells despite a barrage of criticism from the antiabortion movement. Appearing on 8 April before a special panel of advisers, NIH director Harold Varmus proposed that an outside committee review grant proposals to square them with criteria set by Congress. Essentially, the NIH would block funding of research that involves direct use of embryos or aborted fetuses but permit some carefully vetted research on stem cells derived from these sources. An outside body would examine highly rated grant proposals and approve only those that comply with NIH's guidelines.