April 21, 2024

NIH chief snubs Bush stem cell policy

Can President Bush’s weakening hold on Washington bureaucracy be detected in its bioethics? The head of the National Institutes of Health, Elias Zerhouni, has again contradicted his boss’s stand on stem cell research. In the latest issue of a popular magazine published by the NIH, Medline Plus, Dr Zerhouni argues strongly for expanding research on human embryos. “All avenues of research need to be pursued. We must continue the research at all levels, or there will be no progress,” he writes.

Dr Zerhouni told a Congressional committee in March that current restrictions on embryonic stem cell research ought to be lifted. A White House spokesman responded that the President had to take a “broader view” than a scientist, including “moral and religious views”.