Pro-Embryo Group Sues NIH Over Stem Cell Policy

A Christian group has filed a lawsuit against the National Institutes of Health alleging that the Obama Administration's stem cell policy violates federal law, reports the online newspaper Kansas

The suit was filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., by James L. Sherley, an adult stem cell researcher at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, R&D director at AVM Biotechnology in Seattle, Washington. It is supported by, among others, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, a group that encourages adoption of left-over embryos from fertility clinics. Sherley, it may be remembered, is the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who went on a hunger strike in 2007 to protest a lack of faculty diversity after he was denied tenure.

The complainants assert that federal policy, which allows the use of human embryonic stem cells but not their derivation by federally-funded scientists, violates the Dickey-Wicker amendment, a provision in the NIH appropriations law which prohibits federal grantees from doing research on human embryos. Federal guidelines  "authorize public funding of research that depends upon and, indeed, requires the destruction of living human embryos," the group reasons.

Tony Mazzaschi of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C., says the suit hasn't "a chance in hell" of succeeding. A similar suit was filed last March in the Maryland U.S. District Court by Nightlight and others.