The US Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it will not renew a fetal tissue research contract with the University of California, San Francisco, that expired today. The decision concludes a review of research using tissue from aborted fetuses.
The agency also announced measures to limit future research involving human fetal tissue from elective abortions.
“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” a statement from Health and Human Services said.
UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood stated that the university “strongly opposes today’s abrupt decision” by HHS.
“At UCSF, today’s action ends a 30-year partnership with the [National Institutes of Health] (NIH) to use specially designed models that could be developed only through the use of fetal tissue to find a cure for HIV,” Hawgood said in a statement.
“UCSF exercised appropriate oversight and complied with all state and federal laws. We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted and not based on sound science.”
Fetal tissue has been used since the 1930s for vaccine development, and more recently to help advance stem cell research and treatments for degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
One of the earliest advances with fetal tissue was to use fetal kidney cells to create the first poliovirus vaccines, which are now estimated to save 550,000 lives worldwide every year.
Health and Human Services said on Wednesday it is conducting a review to assess if “adequate alternatives exist” for the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions and will work to hasten research for alternatives.
For this effort, it committed $20 million for research “to develop, demonstrate, and validate” alternative experimental models.