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Biden Administration Ends Fetal Tissue Research Restriction

On April 16, 2021, the Biden Administration officially ended the Trump Administration’s restrictions on federally supported extramural research using human fetal tissue from elective abortions. In 2019 - 2020, the Trump Administration set up a new NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board (NFTREAD), composed of many opponents of fetal tissue research, which reviewed and rejected funding for 13 out of 14 extramural NIH grant applications using fetal tissue. The ATS provided public comments supporting the use of fetal tissue research, citing examples of past research advances in respiratory disease and current and future opportunities. The Biden Administration’s move is welcomed following the restrictions on this research.


The new NIH guidance confirms that the NHFTREAB will not be re-convened. NIH extramural grant applications using human fetal tissue will now be reviewed by the existing NIH Ethics Advisory Board that reviewed such grant applications prior to the Trump Administration policy, and such grants will not be subject to any additional restrictions or review.


In 2019, the Trump Administration ended the use of human fetal tissue research in intramural NIH research. NIH has not yet issued guidance on the status of this intramural research.

Last Reviewed: May 2021