Progress in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in the United States between 2001 and 2010

Co-author(s): Anita M. McGahan (UofT), Rahim Rezaie (UofT), Will Mitchell (UofT), Abdallah S. Daar (UofT)

Published in PLoS ONE, 2015

Recommended citation: Vakili, K., McGahan, A. M., Rezaie, R., Mitchell, W., Daar, A. S. (2015). "Progress in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in the United States between 2001 and 2010." PLoS ONE. 10(3): e0120052.

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Abstract: On August 9th, 2001, the federal government of the United States announced a policy restricting federal funds available for research on human embryonic stem cell (hESCs) out of concern for the “vast ethical mine fields” associated with the creation of embryos for research purposes. Until the policy was repealed on March 9th, 2009, no U.S. federal funds were available for research on hESCs extracted after August 9, 2001, and only limited federal funds were available for research on a subset of hESC lines that had previously been extracted. This paper analyzes how the 2001 U.S. federal funding restrictions influenced the quantity and geography of peer-reviewed journal publications on hESC. The primary finding is that the 2001 policy did not have a significant aggregate effect on hESC research in the U.S. After a brief lag in early 2000s, U.S. hESC research maintained pace with other areas of stem cell and genetic research. The policy had several other consequences. First, it was tied to increased hESC research funding within the U.S. at the state level, leading to concentration of related activities in a relatively small number of states. Second, it stimulated increased collaborative research between US-based scientists and those in countries with flexible policies toward hESC research (including Canada, the U.K., Israel, China, Spain, and South Korea). Third, it encouraged independent hESC research in countries without restrictions.