In 2000, the President of the University of Nebraska, L. Dennis Smith, Ph.D., established a committee to develop guidelines for embryonic stem cell (ESC) research conducted by the University of Nebraska. The resulting recommendations, adopted by the Board of Regents in 2001, required the university to follow federal guidelines, among other things. Therefore, when President Bush restricted the use of federal funds for ESC research to stem cell lines created prior to August 9, 2001, the university was also limited to using the “Bush” stem cell lines. UNMC established an Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight (ESCRO) committee to review any research proposals in this area. Current research in this area is still reviewed by this group.
The Nebraska Legislature has struggled with embryonic stem cell research legislation for many years, but no legislation was enacted until a compromise was reached in 2008.
The compromise was the Stem Cell Research Act (LB 606).
One of the major accomplishments of the 2008 session of the Nebraska Legislature was the passage of LB 606, a compromise
bill pertaining to the human embryonic stem cell research being done at UNMC as well as the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
LB 606 will allow UNMC researchers to continue to do research on human embryonic stem cells using federally approved cell lines in university facilities. However, under the provisions of LB 606, no state funds and facilities can be used to destroy or create an embryo for the purpose of research.
In relation to research involving human embryonic stem cell lines, LB 606 would:
- Allow UNMC to do research with public and private funding on human embryonic stem cell lines as long as the cell lines were developed elsewhere; and
- Allow UNMC to do research with public and private funding on SCNT lines as long as the lines were developed elsewhere.
The bill would not:
- Alter the Board of Regents' policy that allows UNMC scientists to use only federally approved stem-cell lines;
- Affect the Board of Regents' policy that prohibits University of Nebraska scientists from conducting SCNT research;
- Restrict human embryonic stem cell line creation or research done using private money and private facilities; and
- Restrict SCNT cell line creation or research done using private money and private facilities.
LB 606 encourages scientists to pursue research projects using non-embryonic stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells. Up to $500,000 in state tobacco settlement funds will be set aside in matching funds each year for non-embryonic stem cell research projects with no single institution in the state eligible to receive more than 70 percent of the funds.