First, Do No Harm

The code of ethics for doctors throughout the ages has been "First, do no harm." This is the code which should apply to the Congress as it addresses the human cloning issue. Given the fact that there is technically no need for Congress to enact, given the FDA jurisdiction, it can proceed with caution to ensure that any bill it might consider has no adverse impact on biomedical research and is focused on only one issue, the cloning of a human being.

The customers of the biopharmaceutical sector of our industry are fellow human beings with disabling and deadly diseases. We consider our research to relieve their suffering to be a high moral and ethical calling.

Let me tell you what our customers -- and your constituents -- are saying about this legislation on human cloning. In a letter to the Congress on February 5, 1998, they stated

We agree with NBAC in its report on cloning that: "It is notoriously difficult to draft legislation at any particular moment that can serve to both exploit and govern the rapid and unpredictable advances of science." Poorly crafted legislation to ban the cloning of human beings may put at risk biomedical research, such as the use of cloning techniques on human cells, genes and tissues, which is vital to finding the cures to the diseases and ailments which our organizations champion. Cancer, diabetes, allergies, asthma, HIV/AIDS, eye diseases, spinal cord injuries, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Gaucher disease, stroke, cystic fibrosis, kidney cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, tuberous sclerosis, tourette syndrome, alcoholism, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, infertility, heart disease, diseases of aging, ataxia telangiectasia and many other types of research will benefit from the advances achieved by biomedical researchers.

We urge the Congress to proceed with extreme caution and adhere to the ethical standard for physicians, "first do no harm." We believe that there are two distinct issues here, cloning of a human being and the healing which comes from biomedical research. Congress must be sure that any legislation which it considers does no harm to biomedical research which can heal those with deadly and debilitating diseases.

Please keep patients’ concerns in mind as you proceed in analyzing this very complicated issue.

This letter was signed by the following organizations:

AIDS Action Council           
Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics, Inc.          
Alliance for Aging Research          
Alzheimer Aid Society           
American Academy of Optometry          
American Academy of Pediatrics          
American Association for Cancer Education          
American Association for Cancer Research          
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association          
American College of Cardiology          
American College of Medical Genetics          
American Diabetes Association          
American Foundation for Urologic Disease          
American Heart Association          
American Paralysis Association          
American Pediatric Society          
American Society for Reproductive Medicine           
American Uveitis Society          
Americans for Medical Progress          
Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairmen          
Association of Pediatric Oncology Nurses          
Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America          
A-T Children’s Project          
Cancer Research Foundation of America          
Cancer Care, Inc.          
Cancervive          
Candlelighter’s Childhood Cancer Foundation           
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation           
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)          
Foundation for Biomedical Research          
Guillain-Barré Syndrome Foundation International          
International Patient Advocacy Association          
Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology          
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International          
Kent Waldrep National Paralysis Foundation          
Log Cabin AIDS Policy Institute          
National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research          
National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO)          
National Association for Biomedical Research          
National Campaign to End Neurological Disorders          
National Coalition for Cancer Research          
National Foundation for Cancer Research           
National Gaucher Foundation          
National Kidney Cancer Association          
National Multiple Sclerosis Society          
National Osteoporosis Foundation          
National Patient Advocate Foundation          
National Stroke Association           
National Tuberous Sclerosis Association          
Oncology Nurses Association          
Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society, Inc.          
 Parkinson’s Action Network          
Radiation Research Society          
Research!America          
Research Society on Alcoholism          
RESOLVE          
Roswell Park Cancer Institute          
Society for Pediatric Research          
Society of Cardiovascular & Interventional Radiology          
The Paget Foundation for Paget's Disease of Bone and Related Disorders         
Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc.           

 

A similar letter was sent to the Hill on February 9, 1998, by the American Association of Medical Colleges and others and it is printed in Appendix F to my testimony.

The American Society for Cell Biology issued a "Statement on Cloning" on February 11 which states:

There is broad consensus supporting the President’s National Biomedical Ethics Advisory Commission’s proposal to ban the creation of a human being by somatic nuclear transplants. The Commission urged that such a ban should not deliberately or inadvertently interfere with biomedical research that is critical to the understanding and eventual prevention of human disease. To that end, we the undersigned endorse the statement on cloning from the American Society for Cell Biology. If legislation is deemed to be necessary, we respectfully urge you to ensure that it be limited to the cloning of human beings, and does not include language that impedes critical ongoing and potential new research.

This statement is signed by the following twenty-seven Nobel Prize winning scientists:

Sidney Altman, Sterling Professor of Biology, Professor of Chemistry, Yale University, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1989

Kenneth J. Arrow, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics Emeritus and Professor of Operations Research Emeritus, Stanford University Nobel Prize in Economics, 1972

David Baltimore, President of California Institute of  Technology Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1975

Paul Berg, Cahill Professor of Cancer Research, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1980

J. Michael Bishop, University Professor, University of California, Director of the G.W. Hooper Research Foundation, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1989

Stanley Cohen, Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1986

R.J. Corey, Sheldon Emery Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1990

Peter Doherty, Department of Immunology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1996

Gertrude B. Elion, Research Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1988

Walter Gilbert, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1980

Alfred G. Gilman, Regental Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1994

Donald A. Glaser, Professor of Physics and of Neurobiology in the Graduate School, University of California at Berkeley, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1960

Joseph L. Goldstein, Professor and Chairman, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1985

Roger Guillemin, Distinguished Research Professor, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1977

Dudley Herschbach, Baird Professor of Science, Harvard University, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986

Edwin G. Krebs, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1992

Joshua Lederberg, Professor Emeritus, The Rockefeller University, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1958

Leon M. Lederman, Pritzker Professor of Science, Illinois Institute of Technology, Director Emeritus, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1988

Edward B. Lewis, Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Biology, Emeritus, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1995

Daniel Nathans, Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University Professor, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1978

Marshall Nirenberg, Laboratory Chief, Laboratory or Biochemical Genetics, The National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1968

Douglas D. Osheroff, J.G. Jackson and C.S. Wood Professor of Physics, Stanford University, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1996

Phillip A Sharp, Professor and Head, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993

Susumu Tonegawa, Amgen Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, Director of Center for Learning and Memory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1987

James D. Watson, President, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1962

Eric F. Wieschaus, Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1995

Torsten Wiesel, President, The Rockefeller University, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1981

The message from these organizations and individuals is clear. None of them, and certainly not BIO, support the cloning of a human being. The concern here is with the impact of these bills on biomedical research, not any desire to defend or condone human cloning.

We in the medical research community are inspired by our patients and the medical practioners who are dedicated to treating them. Our highest priority is to meet the human needs. We listen carefully to those who are suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other terrible scourges in our world. We go to work everyday with these needs in our mind and we have dedicated our lives to the cause of medicine. We urge the Subcommittee to do the same as it considers this legislation.

Let me take a few minutes to describe stem cell research and how H.R. 922 and S. 1599/S. 1601 would stifle some or all of it.