Science & Tech

President Faust issues statement supporting federal funding of stem cell research

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Harvard joins amicus brief seeking lifting of injunction blocking funding

A temporary restraining order last month that blocked federal
funding for certain kinds of stem cell research was viewed by many as a
blow to cutting-edge science that already is yielding clues to cures for
a number of fatal illnesses and chronic diseases. Harvard has been in
the vanguard of such research, and the University, as a member of the
Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research
, supported an amicus
brief filed last Friday (Sept. 3), urging the court to lift the
restraining order
imposed in Sherley v. Sebelius. The day before that
brief was filed, Harvard President Drew Faust visited one of the
University’s stem cell labs, and today (Sept. 7) she issued the

In a recent visit to the laboratory of Doug Melton, co-director of
the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, I was reminded of the remarkable
ingenuity and commitment by this extraordinary team of scientists, and
their dedication to improving lives. Stem cell research has emerged as
one of the most important new areas of human biology. Although the
effort is still young, it promises to help us treat and someday even
find cures for diseases such as diabetes, ALS, Parkinson’s, and

This vital work is now in jeopardy because of a recent court
injunction halting the use of federal funds to pursue embryonic stem
cell research. We hope that the temporary injunction will soon be lifted
and that Congress will take the steps necessary to ensure that stem
cell scientists can carry on their work vigorously and responsibly, in
the interests of the millions of people who may someday enjoy its

Harvard strongly supports its stem cell researchers, and we are
deeply grateful for the generosity of the many private donors who will
remain critical to sustaining our efforts. But without the flow of
essential federal funds, the promise of stem cell science is at risk of
becoming a dream deferred — and, for some, a dream undone.