Trump clamps down on fetal tissue research

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Science  14 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6445, pp. 1016-1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6445.1016

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In a decision that shocked and distressed scientists who work with it, President Donald Trump's administration last week announced a new policy sharply curtailing U.S.-funded research that relies on fetal tissue donated after elective abortions. In addition to canceling a long-standing contract that uses the tissue to create mice for HIV drug testing, Trump immediately stopped several experiments being run by scientists employed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who can no longer use the tissue. But the biggest impact of the new policy will likely fall on scores of university-based researchers who rely on NIH funding. Going forward, they will have to navigate lengthy ethics reviews of each proposed experiment by advisory boards appointed by the secretary of health and human services. Even then, the secretary can overrule any board decisions he disagrees with. "The whole point here is to so wrap the research in red tape that it's impossible or at least unlikely to be feasible for many researchers," says bioethicist Alta Charo of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.