Should there be a religious or moral litmus check for the NIH Director?

A few dozen extremely conservative Republican members of Congress have got written a letter to President Trump saying he should fire NIH Director Francis Collins.

Why?

Because they claim that Collins is not conservative enough for their taste and in particular they don’ t like his support of embryonic stem cellular research funding.

You can read the actual notice here   and see text in a clip from this below where religion is invoked. Does that mean that when the NIH Director was not a Christian that they might hold it against him/her? It sure sounds this way.

These Republicans argue in the letter  that will Dr . Collins is not ‘ pro-life’ enough or perhaps meaning enough for them so they are telling Trump to fire your pet. There is no scientific or even logical basis for this proposed activity. In fact , this is about as anti-science as it can get. It’ s not just putting politics over science, it is also wanting to put one religious viewpoint over others and more than science.
Gallup Poll embryonic stem cells

Dr . Collins’ views upon embryonic stem cells are in reality not extreme because they are in line with those of most Americans and researchers. Americans generally  have become more supportive of embryonic come cell research in the past 10-15 years and this consistently comes up in most polls on the topic. For example , in a 2013 Pew poll greater than  2/3 of Americans either voiced support for wanting stem cell research or felt it wasn’ capital t a moral issue at all. That’ s decisive. A more recent Gallup poll is extremely clear  too in terms of Americans favoring embryonic stem cellular research by about a 2-1 margin. The fact  is the fact that these 41 GOP representatives are the extremists and are endeavoring to force their views onto biomedical science.

Also note that the “ human cloning” that is referenced in this letter is not reproductive human cloning (which is in fact widely controversial), but rather somatic cell nuclear transfer which you can use to make patient-specific embryonic stem cell lines, which is occasionally referred to as “ therapeutic cloning”. It is also worth giving the reminder that the embryos being discussed here are left over, blastocyst embryos from fertility procedures that would otherwise mostly become thrown away as biohazardous waste. Human blastocysts have just about 100 cells, are hard to see with the naked vision, and have no distinctly human features other than their GENETICS.

With Trump wanting to severely cut NIH funding in general and now these GOP representatives asking for  a new, uber-conservative NIH Director who will likely put technology itself as a low priority and their own specific religious beliefs first, it is even more important than ever that those of us who  support science and specifically biomedical research let our own voices be heard. I know many people of faith that support embryonic stem cell research and science a lot more generally. We are stronger when we are united together since advocates. This research has concrete, future potential to help a great deal of  people as well as end suffering and ongoing early-phase clinical trials for conditions such as paralysis and loss of sight show promise.

Let’ s put technology, medicine, and patients first.

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