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NIH Holds Meeting of Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board

July 31, 2020

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Heather Pierce, Sr. Director, Science Policy & Regulatory Counsel

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a virtual meeting of the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board on July 31 that began with a one-hour public comment period followed by a closed session for the remainder of the day.

The meeting was the sole planned meeting of the Ethics Advisory Board, which was convened in accordance with the June 2019 announcement of the administration’s new fetal tissue research policies. A call for nominees to the 15-member board was issued in February [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 21], and the membership of the Board was announced the morning of July 31.

During the meeting, the Board reviewed each grant application that has been recommended for funding through the peer review system and proposes to use human fetal tissue [see Washington Highlights, July 17]. According to the Board’s charter, it “will advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding the ethics of research involving human fetal tissue proposed in NIH grant and cooperative agreement applications and R&D contract proposals.” Each Board member voted on whether or not to recommend funding for each proposal and the Board’s recommendation will be based on a majority vote.

The AAMC submitted a letter for the record prior to the meeting and also joined a letter submitted by higher education associations defending the use of human fetal tissue research to advance discovery and improve human health.

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