Human Fetal Tissue:

Acquisition for Federally Funded Biomedical Research

GAO-01-65R: Published: Oct 4, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 4, 2000.

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Janet Heinrich
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This report focuses on the federal involvement in acquiring human fetal tissue for preclinical research. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials reported that the National Institute for Health (NIH) is the only federal agency under the Senate Labor, HHS, and Education Subcommittee's jurisdiction that sponsors research using human fetal tissue. According a GAO survey, 12,116 human fetal tissue samples were acquired during fiscal years 1997 through 1999 for use in NIH-sponsored research. In fiscal year 1999, three fetal tissue suppliers received federal funding. For therapeutic transplantation research, the NIH Revitalization Act requires written statements by the donor, the physician who obtained the tissue, and the researcher receiving the tissue to ensure that the provisions of the law are met. It also requires that all applicable and local laws must be followed. The costs to acquire human fetal tissue were low. Principal investigators reported that quality of tissue and compliance with federal regulations were their primary criteria for choosing a human fetal tissue supplier.

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