Federal ethics board urges NIH to block most fetal tissue grant proposals

A federal advisory board is urging the National Institutes of Health to withhold funds for nearly all research proposals involving fetal tissue, reports The Washington Post.

The newly created board met virtually in July to assess the ethics of proposed research grants involving fetal tissue. 

In a report sent to HHS Aug. 18, the advisory board recommended NIH fund only one of 14 fetal tissue research grants. The one proposal recommended for funding involved using fetal tissue to assess whether an alternative research mechanism that does not use the tissue is also effective. The most common reason the board recommended withholding funding was that researchers did not provide adequate ethical justification for using fetal tissue, according to The Post.

Many scientists who work with fetal tissue have spoken out against the recommendations, claiming the White House is effectively trying to ban all fetal tissue research.

Ultimately, HHS Secretary Alex Azar has final say over the projects NIH funds. 

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