Washington Update

NIH Reverses 2019 Restrictions on Human Fetal Tissue Research

By: Yvette Seger
Thursday, April 22, 2021

On April 16, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Guide Notice reversing restrictions on human fetal tissue research put in place by the Trump Administration in 2019. A key change was the elimination of the requirement for extramural research grants and contracts proposing use of human fetal tissue to be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board. The inaugural convening of the Ethics Advisory Board sparked controversy within the research community because of its politicized nature and its recommendations to withhold funds for 13 of the 14 proposals reviewed.

Earlier this month, FASEB transmitted a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting that he rescind the prior Administration’s policies pertaining to human fetal tissue research. In addition to eliminating the Ethics Advisory Board for extramural research, NIH confirmed that the policy update removes restrictions that prevented intramural researchers from acquiring new fetal tissue upon exhaustion of existing resources.