Justice Department Declines UC stem Cell Motion

The U.S. Department of Justice declined to consent to the University of California’s motion to intervene in Sherley v. Sebelius, the case regarding federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, on which UC had made a motion to the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals on Sept. 20. However, in its Sept. 23 response, the DOJ supported the University’s “amicus” participation in lieu of intervention, stating that it urges the Court ‘to fully consider the University’s submissions in deciding this appeal.”

In a news release issued today, the UC Office of the President stated that “The University of California remains optimistic that the Court will recognize our significant interests in the litigation, and looks forward to the Court’s ruling.”

UC was the nation’s first research institution to formally seek to intervene in the pending lawsuit. UCSF’s Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF, was one of two UC scientists to file a declaration in support of the UC Board of Regents’ motion to intervene.

Statement regarding filings by the US Department of Justice and attorneys for Appellees in response to UC’s motion with the U.S Federal Court of Appeals to intervene in Sherley v. Sebelius:

Date: 2010-09-23
Contact: University of California Office of the President
Phone: (510) 987-9200

The University of California is pleased that, in their filing, the U.S. Department of Justice recognizes the direct and irreparable harm the injunction has caused and will continue to cause to the University and its researchers, as well as those for whom the promise of embryonic stem cell research holds tremendous hope. UC is pleased that the Department of Justice urges the court “to fully consider the University’s submissions in deciding this appeal”.

The University of California remains optimistic that the Court will recognize our significant interests in the litigation, and looks forward to the Court’s ruling. 

As we have stated in the past, human embryonic stem cell research is a powerful tool for gaining better knowledge of fundamental cellular biology and holds the potential for new cures and therapies for an array of life-threatening diseases affecting millions of Americans. Understanding and ultimately realizing the potential of stem cells through the advancement of ethical scientific research is a priority for the University of California and our world-class research enterprise. The University of California believes it is imperative that the scientific community be permitted to move forward with embryonic stem cell research that provides hope to millions of patients and their families.

Background:
On August 23, 2010, in the case of Sherley v. Sebelius, a federal trial court judge in Washington, D.C., issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting federal funding of research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESC).  On September 9, that injunction was temporarily suspended by a federal appellate court while it decides whether the injunction should be re-instated for the several months it likely will take the appeals court to review the case on the merits.  On September 20, the University of California filed a motion with the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking to intervene in the case in order to assure the harm caused by the judicially imposed federal funding ban to the University and its researchers is fully considered. A decision from the court on UC’s motion is expected in the near future.

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