The Obama administration can continue to support embryonic stem-cell research as a result of a federal judge's opinion that legal experts said would end a lawsuit challenging the funding. Some researchers, however, said they expect the political divisiveness of their work will persistently threaten those dollars.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who briefly froze the research funding last year, officially ended the lawsuit brought after President Barack Obama reversed an earlier ban on virtually all such research conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The administration's new policy was almost immediately blocked by a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
After a series of decisions and reversals by appeals courts, Lamberth—the chief judge on the Washington district court—grudgingly ruled in favor of the administration's NIH policy.
Susan Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, said the litigation and constant political fights over the funding create uncertainty. Her organization relies on private and state sources. “You never know what sort of sword of Damocles will fall,” she said. “There's already a fair amount of damage done.” The NIH funding was dribbling in, stopped and then started to dribble in again.