Statement on President Obama's Executive Order and Presidential Memorandum




Ralph J. Cicerone

President, National Academy of Sciences


Charles M. Vest

President, National Academy of Engineering


Harvey V. Fineberg

President, Institute of Medicine


March 9, 2009


On behalf of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, we applaud the orders issued by President Obama today.


By easing restrictions on federal support for embryonic stem cell research, the president's decision can hasten progress through stem cell research to treat disease and ease suffering.  President Obama's executive order echoes the recommendations of a 2001 report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, which noted that public funding was the most efficient and responsible way to realize the medical promise of embryonic stem cell research.  In his remarks at the signing ceremony, the president also echoed a recommendation in another of our reports that reproductive cloning should not be used to create a human.


The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine have recommended guidelines for the ethical conduct of embryonic stem cell research that are currently used by many universities and other institutions to govern research in this field.  We hope our guidelines will be helpful as the government proceeds to develop the guidelines for federal funding that the president called for today.

President Obama also issued a presidential memorandum directing the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish standards to ensure that scientific advisers are appointed "based on their credentials and experience, not politics or ideology."  This is welcome news because reliance on science that is free of political interference provides the foundation for public trust in government decision making.

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council stand ready now, as always, to bring scientific and technical expertise to bear on critical questions of national policy.  Acting under a congressional charter, the National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice to the nation.