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What Experts Are Saying Re: Azar’s Decision to Restrict Funding for Lifesaving Research, Putting Millions of Lives at Risk

New York, NY – Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the government would end as much as $100 million of federal funding used to research cures for diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, HIV, Zika and Autism. Experts roundly criticised the end of this crucial federal funding.

Below please find a round up of what key academics, researchers and other experts are saying about HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s decision:

  • “The ban [...] is akin to a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life threatening and debilitating diseases. It will also severely impact the National Institutes of Health, universities, and other researchers, who will lose key funding for their laboratories and their vital work.” —Lawrence O. Gostin, professor specializing in public health law at Georgetown University (New York Times, 6/5/19)
  • “I think it’s ultimately a terrible, nonsensical policy. Valuable research that is directed at helping to develop therapies for terrible diseases will be stopped. And tissue that would be used will be thrown out instead” — Larry Goldstein, distinguished professor in the University of California at San Diego’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (Washington Post, 6/5/19)
  • “We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted and not based on sound science” — University of California at San Diego Chancellor Sam Hawgood (Press Statement, 6/5/19)
  • “With these new arbitrary restrictions on research, the United States is ceding its role as the global leader in the development of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine. The regulatory and legal framework in the U.S. for overseeing fetal tissue research was carefully developed with input from the public, ethicists, policymakers and scientists and ensures rigorous oversight, including that the tissue is obtained legally and with donor consent.” — Doug Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (Washington Post, 6/5/19)
  • “I’m disappointed that NIH would think this is appropriate.” — Carolyn Coyne, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (Washington Post, 6/5/19)
  • "There is no evidence that the use of donated tissue from fetal remains has any effect on whether women choose abortions, and no evidence that decades of research using donated tissue has ever led to an increase in the number of abortions" — R. Alta Charo, bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin (Politico, 6/5/19)
  • “Fetal tissue research has led to major scientific advances, including the virtual elimination of polio, measles and rubella in the U.S. Fetal tissue research is also used in the development of vaccines against Ebola and HIV, the study of human development, and efforts to treat and cure conditions that affect millions of people across the United States.” — Guttmacher Institute, which supports research into sexual and reproductive health (Los Angeles Times, 6/5/19)
  • “It will have an impact. There is still research being done on interventions for HIV, disease development.” — Arthur Caplan, medical ethics professor at New York University Langone Medical Center (Wall Street Journal, 6/5/19)
  • “Ideologues should not be allowed to stand in for real doctors and scientists when the government is making decisions about lifesaving medicine.” —Megan Donovan, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute (Wall Street Journal, 6/5/19)

For more information, click HERE for Equity Forward’s fact sheet on fetal tissue research.