This is almost unbelievable. Apparently a federal judge has blocked the Obama administration’s change to stem cell research policy.
There’s this gem of a paragraph at Forbes on the story:
A federal appeals court had ruled that two fellow plaintiffs – doctors who do research with adult stem cells, James Sherley of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology – were entitled to sue over the new guidelines, prompting U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday to reverse a decision he made in October when he dismissed the lawsuit.
Sherley and Deisher allege that the guidelines will result in increased competition for limited federal funding and will injure their ability to compete successfully for National Institutes of Health stem cell research money.
I almost fell over when I read that so went searching for confirmation and found this at USA Today:
Lamberth’s reversal follows a federal appeals court ruling that allowed two adult-stem-cell researchers to pursue a lawsuit, claiming that the new guidelines would increase competition for limited federal funds and that it violated federal law.
Lamberth said that the “injury” of increased competition that James Sherley of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology would face “is not speculative. It is actual and imminent. Indeed, the guidelines threaten the very livelihood of plaintiffs Sherley and Deisher.”
I really don’t know what to say but this seems like a dangerous precedent to me from Judge Lamberth. There is obviously more to the ruling than the dangers of competition for NIH funding (seriously, I can’t believe this) as part of the ruling is based on anti stem cell interests but this NIH thing appears to have played a part. And, yes, if you think you recognize the name James Sherley from something else, you probably do.
In documents submitted as part of the lawsuit, Dr. Sherley signed a statement saying that he uses only adult human stem cells in his work and that he relies on the National Institutes of Health for the vast majority of the grants he receives. He said the institutes’ decision to finance human embryonic stem cell research “will result in increased competition for the limited resources that are available to fund human stem cell research, threatening my ability to obtain federal funding for my adult stem cell research.”
Here’s another interesting bit of text from the article on Dr. Deisher:
Formerly the vice president of research and development at CellCyte Genetics, Dr. Deisher told the police that she had been blamed for the company’s “downfall.” The company was charged in 2009 with making false statements about its research while Dr. Deisher still worked at the company, although Dr. Deisher was not charged in the case.
Dr. Deisher co-founded and now works for the Ave Maria Biotechnology Company, which works to “provide safe, effective and affordable alternative vaccines and stem cell therapies that are not tainted by embryonic or electively aborted fetal materials,” its Web site states.
In a statement submitted as part of the lawsuit, Dr. Deisher wrote that she was applying for grants from the health institutes but competition from embryonic stem cell researchers hurt her chances.