On Friday the National Institutes of Health issued draft guidelines for funding research on stem cells. This guidelines are in response to the March Executive Order issued by President Obama revising the previous funding constraints on stem cell research. The guidelines are for extramural research, as internal NIH procedures cover all intramural research.
As is all too common with this issue, things get blurred pretty quickly. This funding and associated guidelines are for research conducted on the stem cells, and cannot fund the derivation of human embryos. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment bans such derivation. The guidelines also restrict NIH funding to embryonic stem cells derived from embryos created for reproductive purposes that would otherwise be discarded. Research on adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells can *continue* to be funded by NIH dollars. As it stands, this is not a free-for-all. From the announcement of the draft guidelines:
NIH funding for research using human embryonic stem cells derived from other sources, including somatic cell nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis, and/or IVF embryos created for research purposes, is not allowed under these Guidelines.
As I noted, these are draft guidelines, and comments can be submitted to NIH. The comment period is 30 days from the publication of a notice of rulemaking in the Federal Register, which should happen this week. Check back to the NIH link I provided above to find the final date for comments, which should be no later than May 24, along with more specifics about how and where to send your comments.