Obama Frees Federal Funding for Stem Cells

Allison Loudermilk

Somewhere former First Lady Nancy Reagan is dancing a little jig. Reagan, along with legions of scientists and other advocates, lobbied hard to lift the federal ban on embryonic stem cell research. Today, President Obama obliged.

According to the accompanying executive order, the president's action will "expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research" among other things. MSNBC writes that reactions to the announcement fell predictably along party lines, with Reagan standing apart from critical Republicans.

She might want to bond with Gov. Schwarzenegger, who calls the order a "huge win," according to MSNBC. Or Michael J. Fox, who writes on the Michael J. Fox Foundation Web site, "I could not be more thrilled to see President Obama live up to his commitment to get politics out of science." Other organizations, such as the Family Research Council, called the decision "misguided." And probably a whole lot worse.

Do you think scientists will abandon their efforts to retrain skin cells to act like stem cells, or will research continue along multiple fronts? It seems like the latter. After all, why take aim at chronic killers with one weapon in your arsenal? But I'd be curious to hear what you guys think.

If you're not really sure what a stem cell is, we can get you up to speed at HowStuffWorks.com: How Stem Cells Work How Cells Work Could we clone our organs to be used in a transplant? Why would scientists want to create a hybrid human-cow embryo?