September 7, 2010

A Special Message about Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Dear Colleagues,

On Aug. 23, U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth issued a preliminary injunction which immediately prohibited the National Institutes of Health from further funding research involving the use of human embryonic stem cells. This ruling means researchers at Vanderbilt, and scientists at numerous other U.S. medical schools and universities, are being forced to halt potentially lifesaving research previously supported under federal legislation.

At Vanderbilt, promising research with approved lines of human embryonic stem cells has already resulted in exciting discoveries. Researchers with our Center for Stem Cell Biology believe the tremendous potential held within these nascent cells can lead to treatments for a wide array of diseases, and are already hard at work in the areas of type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and heart disease. Studies throughout the nation involving human embryonic stem cells are allowing remarkable progress toward treatments and cures for a vast array of human diseases.

The recent prohibition will greatly slow the progress of our research, and the research of our colleagues across the country. To this end, I have joined the deans of 74 other medical schools, and the Association of American Medical Colleges, in signing the attached public statement which ran in The Washington Post urging Congress to pass legislation that will put an end to this ongoing controversy and ensure funding for this promising field of discovery.

Sincerely,

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine