Washington Update

FASEB Urges HHS to Rescind Trump Era Policies for Human Fetal Tissue Research

By: Yvette Seger
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

On April 7, FASEB transmitted a letter to Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requesting that he rescind policies implemented by the prior Administration to severely restrict research involving human fetal tissue.

From vaccines to treatments for debilitating chronic diseases, fetal tissue research has played a critical role in scientific advances. However, in June 2019, the Trump Administration enacted policy changes that had an immediate chilling effect on these research activities. Intramural researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are restricted from acquiring new fetal tissue and extramural grant proposals involving human fetal tissue are subjected to an additional layer of review by an Ethics Advisory Board after being deemed scientifically meritorious by NIH’s two-tier peer review process. During its inaugural convening, the Ethics Advisory Board recommended that the HHS Secretary not fund 13 of the 14 proposals reviewed.

In addition to rescinding these policies, FASEB encouraged Secretary Becerra to pursue active and transparent engagement with the research community to ensure any new policies foster rigorous experimental design and limit administrative burdens and delays.