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October 27, 1978

Second beginning for in vitro fertilization research?

JAMA. 1978;240(18):1940. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290180014002

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The first tentative steps have been taken toward providing federal funding in the controversial research area of in vitro fertilization.

The Ethics Advisory Board of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) recently conducted a hearing on the subject, described candidly by one of the participants as "an effort to close the barn door after the horse is already out."

In the wake of the birth in England of Louise Brown, the world's first "laboratory-conceived" baby, the advisory group commissioned by HEW Secretary Joseph Califano heard testimony from US researchers anxious to match the success of their British counterparts.

The testimony of Joseph D. Schulman, MD, head of the biochemical and developmental genetics section of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, perhaps best summed up the attitude of US researchers.

"If we don't go ahead with research in embryo transfer in humans," he said, "then someone