Over the past two years, scientists working on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have been waiting for a court decision that would decide the fate of their research. In the case Sherley v. Sebelius, two stem cell researchers filed a case against the U.S. government and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reviewed whether federal law prohibits the funding of hESC research or just funding the creation of the cells.

In a recent Baker Institute policy report, science and technology fellow Kirstin Matthews, postdoctoral research associate Maude Rowland, and interns Jingyuan Luo and Monica Matsumoto examine the progression of Sherley vs. Sebelius and the implications the case might have on the United States" "ability to collaborate -- as well as compete -- with international hESC research efforts."

Additionally, the authors recommend that Congress construct a comprehensive and unambiguous policy for U.S. hESC research and funding so that vital studies will not be punctuated by disruptive changes in the legality of their work.