In DepthU.S. RESEARCH POLICY

NIH fetal tissue research requirements raise worries

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Science  02 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6452, pp. 414
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6452.414

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Summary

For weeks, biomedical researchers have waited nervously for an explanation of how President Donald Trump's administration would follow through on a policy announced in June that clamps down on the use of human fetal tissue in federally funded research. On 26 July, the agency released the details: Starting in late September, scientists applying for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants will need to use the strictly limited space in their applications to describe how the fetal tissue will be obtained, used, and disposed of, and to justify their need for it, explaining why alternatives such as adult tissue won't work. Then, if NIH greenlights a research proposal for funding, it will need to win approval from a new ethics advisory board. The new regulations bring short-term relief to some because grant applications in the NIH pipeline before 25 September won't be affected. But the paperwork requirements, along with the potentially lengthy ethics review, raise many more worries. Dozens of important biomedical projects, including studies of Zika virus and HIV, could be stymied by the new policy, NIH grantees say.

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