NIH Director Promotes Politics Over Adult Stem Cell Research, Sound Science

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 4, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

NIH Director Promotes Politics Over Adult Stem Cell Research, Sound Science

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 4
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — In a new opinion column appearing the magazine Science, NIH director Francis Collins appears to put politics over science. In a list of five "opportunities for research," Collins promotes embryonic stem cell research but ignores the adult variety already helping patients.

In the column, Collins says it is "appropriate to identify areas of particular promise" where NIH can help fund the work of scientists and researchers in "areas that are ripe for major advances that could reap substantial downstream benefits."

"Yet when discussing stem cell research and Translational Medicine, there is no mention whatsoever of pushing ahead with developing more adult stem cell treatments, already shown effective for patients," notes Family Research Council fellow Dr. David Prentice. "Instead, the emphasis is all on embryonic stem cells and the embryonic-like iPS cells."

Collins promotes the first human protocol (for spinal cord injury) involving human embryonic stem cells and says it was approved by the FDA in 2009.

The NIH director says "the opening up of federal support for hESC research will bring many investigators into this field."

Collins also spends time touting iPSCs even while admitting "much work remains to be done to investigate possible risks."

While pro-life advocates share the excitement about induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), they note that significant hurdles have not been overcome that would bring it to the level of adult stem cells — that are helping patients today battle more than 100 different diseases and condition.

Prentice, a former Indiana State University biology professor, says "Collins continues to pump the [Obama] Administration line on stem cells, emphasizing embryonic stem cells and completely ignoring the only stem cells helping patients now — adult stem cells."

"This is not the first time Collins has seemed ignorant of adult stem cell successes. But it is still disappointing to see the emphasis on political science instead of putting the patients first," Prentice says.

In a previous interview with the New England Journal of Medicine, Francis Collins talks about the number of “stem cell” clinical trials.

The “one clinical trial” Collins refers to is the one embryonic stem cell experiment with patients that is out there. And it is indeed on hold.

"But there are at least 2,000 clinical trials for Adult Stem Cells," Prentice says. "By the way, there are quite a few done on the NIH campus itself."

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.