ASCB opposes Trump Administration’s halt to fetal tissue research

The American Society for Cell Biology, a professional society of more than 8,000 basic biomedical researchers in all 50 states and 60 countries around the world, strongly opposes the decision by the Trump White House to halt the use of human fetal tissue for research in labs at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and severely limit future research at U.S. research institutions.

Human fetal cells hold unique promise for biomedical research due to their ability to rapidly divide, grow, and adapt to new environments. Most recently, fetal tissue has been imperative in understanding the devastating impact the Zika virus has on infants. “The use of fetal tissue is vital to answering specific scientific questions that cannot be answered any other way,” said Kevin Wilson, ASCB’s Director of Public Policy and Media Relations. Wilson continued, “The Trump Administration decision, announced on Wednesday, goes against the advice it has received from the scientific community.”

The Trump directive immediately stops the use of human fetal tissue in research at the NIH and will require all new grants for NIH-funded at research institutions around the nation to be reviewed by an ethics board whose members will be selected by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The ethics board will only review grant applications that have been approved for funding by NIH’s scientific review processes. “The ASCB is concerned that the ethics committee formed under this announcement will be nothing more than a vehicle by which the Administration shelves extramural research previously deemed to be scientifically meritorious,” said Kevin Wilson, ASCB’s Director of Public Policy and Media Relations.


About the Author:

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email:

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