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Timeline: A Brief History of Stem Cell Research

lab tech working with petri dish

This post was updated in May 2012 to reflect new developments in stem cell research, policy, and politics.

The stories of research involving human embryonic stem cells and the policy governing that work are intertwined and stretch back into the mid-1970s. Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, discussions began about how to conduct ethical research on human fetal tissue. Since that time, scientists have made great strides—most notable the isolation of human embryonic stem cells. Conservative and progressive presidents alike have curtailed federal funding for research for ethical reasons, but the position taken by President Bush both limited advances in regenerative medicine and ignored ethical guidelines. Case in point: a 2008 report determined that of the 21 viable lines eligible for funding under the Bush guidelines, only 16 were ethically derived. This timeline (after the jump) traces major events in this revolutionary field:

Any feedback? Let us know at You can view the old version of the timeline in dipity, here.

The Center for American Progress has a plan—outlined in the report, “A Life Sciences Crucible“—for lifting the existing temporal restriction on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and establishing clear ethical guidelines for oversight of future research.


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