Stem cell funding must remain

Earlier this month the Biochemical Society, along with 32 other organizations, signed the Wellcome Trust’s statement Supporting Funding for Stem Cell and Reproductive Health Research in Europe.

The statement was produced in response to the European ‘One of Us’ Citizens’ Initiative that is seeking a ban on all financing of activities that presuppose the destruction of human embryos, including stem cell research, within the European Union.

We signed the statement because we believe that stem cell research continues to be one of the most promising fields of biomedical research and offers the opportunity to greatly improve the health of European citizens. The funding ban proposed would have a negative impact on research involving human embryos for regenerative medicine, reproductive health and genetic disease.

The issue has already experienced a robust debate, and the current framework for funding stem cell research, as part of Horizon 2020, was approved in just December last year. This framework allows ground-breaking and important research using all forms of stem cells, subject to it meeting fundamental ethical principles.

Since we added our signature, the statement has seen a groundswell of momentum. By Friday, the list of signatories had increased to 59, and this number continues to grow. It represents patient groups, research funders, learned societies, universities and industry groups, all speaking with a unified voice.

[Update, 1/5/2014: The number of organisations signed to the statement has reached 72]

The European Parliament held a public hearing in the initiative on 10 April, and the European Commission’s official response must be delivered by 28 May.

You can help ensure that vital stem cell research continues within the European Union, by contacting your local Member of the European Parliament and personally endorsing the position statement.

We recognise that stem cell research can be a controversial area of science. If you’re a teacher, student or simply interested in finding out more, visit our Sciberbrain website. There we lay out the issues and opinions on stem cell research (along with other scientific issues) to help you make an informed decision.

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