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With Stem Cells in Court, A History Primer

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Science  17 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5998, pp. 1450-1451
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5998.1450

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In August, a District of Columbia judge temporarily barred federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. An appeals court temporarily lifted the funding ban last week, and the National Institutes of Health has resumed funding the work, but the case against hESC research is moving forward, with more legal filings expected this month and next that could again interrupt funding. In the end, resolution may need to come from Congress, where a handful of politicians are considering bills to more explicitly allow federal funding for hESC work. Although this particular court case dates only to the summer of 2009, the hESC story stretches back 15 years, even before the cells were first isolated. Science assembled a timeline to capture this long road, whose end is still uncertain.