German Research Association (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - DFG)

The question as to whether the Embryo Protection Act (ESchG) needs to be amended in view of the privileged status of the therapeutic goals that may be associated with stem cell research is extremely closely linked to the ongoing discussion of stem cell research in general and the problem of importation in particular. The Federal Ministry of Health convened a conference – inter alia on this issue – with an eye to a possible Reproductive Medicine Act (Fortpflanzungsmedizingesetz) (May 2000). Following its 1999 statement the German Research Foundation (DFG) adopted new recommendations for research involving human stem cells on 3 May, 2001 and proposed a "phased plan for standardisation and international cooperation" as well as "research on 'surplus' embryos subject to strict conditions"
The DFG suggests that the importation of stem cell lines derived from surplus embryos and research on such stem cell lines should initially be facilitated. Neither is currently prohibited by the Embryo Protection Act. In addition, however, international cooperation at the institutional level should - if necessary - be promoted with DFG funds and as a further step – as appropriate – the DFG suggests that lawmakers should also make it possible to generate stem cell lines from embryos in Germany. Research should be supervised by an "independent, pluralistically constituted commission on the federal level". The DFG rejects the creation of embryos exclusively for research purposes, reproductive and "therapeutic" cloning as well as interventions in the germ cell lineage. At the urging of the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology (BMBF), the Central Committee of the DFG (4 May, 2001) initially postponed a decision on an application for approval of a research project involving imported stem cells at the University of Bonn. The application was approved on 31 January, 2002; the funds, however, remain blocked "until submission of the required [government] approval" in accordance with the conditions and procedures outlined in the decision of the Federal Parliament of 30 January, 2002.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (1999): DFG-Stellungnahme zum Problemkreis "Humane embryonale Stammzellen". In: Honnefelder, Ludger / Streffer, Christian (ed.), Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik 4, 393–399. 

Revised recommendations of the DFG regarding research involving human stem cells. Phased plan for standardisation and international cooperation research on "surplus" embryos subject to strict conditions:

Press release on the recommendation. Online Version (German)

DFG press release of 31 January, 2002 regarding approval of the application by the Bonn neuroscientist Oliver Brüstle for support for his research project "Obtaining and transplanting neural precursor cells from human embryonic stem cells". Online Version (German)

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