A new federal ethics advisory board for fetal tissue research has convened to consider future federally-funded research proposals that involve tissue from aborted babies.
The Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) met for the first time on July 31, to advise the Health Secretary on the ethics of research proposals involving fetal tissue of aborted babies.
The board was first announced in June of 2019, when the Trump administration decided to halt new research with aborted fetal tissue at NIH facilities, and limited funding of such research conducted outside the NIH.
For the research conducted outside the NIH, or “extramural” research, the administration announced that an ethics advisory board would be appointed to consider such funding and advise the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the proposals.
Some researchers have called for the administration to end its moratorium, saying that research with aborted fetal tissue could be vital to developing treatments and a cure for the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
In February, the HHS announced that it would begin accepting nominations to the board, and during that time period, some researchers at an NIH research laboratory told the Washington Post that the administration’s moratorium on fetal tissue research was hindering possible advances in research on treatments for the coronavirus.
Dr. David Prentice, now a member of the NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, told CNA in March that the timing of the comments was peculiar as it could have been related to the consideration of appointments to the board.
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