Position Statements

SDB statement on In Vitro Fertilization: Decisions on reproductive care should be grounded in science

(April 17, 2024) “In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) stands as one of the pinnacles of success of developmental biology research, offering hope to those unable to conceive naturally, and its future should be protected from the misconception that human embryos are “ex-utero babies.” We write as scientists and experts in the study of embryonic development (the field of developmental biology) in response to the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that early human embryos are “extra-utero babies” with the same rights as any child or person. Language is important. Human embryos are not human babies. Human embryos can live in a laboratory culture dish for multiple days. This is what makes (IVF) possible. However, as with individual eggs or sperm, a fertilized egg or early embryo ex-utero (outside of a woman’s body) has no ability to give rise to a fully gestated human being without implantation into a receptive uterus. None.”

Read full letter here.

The Society for Developmental Biology Board of Directors supports and affirms FASEB’s statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

(October 20, 2022) “The June 24, 2022, U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn the longstanding precedent of Roe v. Wade in protecting an individual’s constitutional right to privacy in health care, specifically access to abortion, is alarming, both for its immediate impact on reproductive health decisions and exacerbation of existing health and socioeconomic disparities in the long term. As a coalition of 28 scientific societies committed to furthering the biological and biomedical sciences to advance human health, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) strongly opposes this decision and reaffirms its position that healthcare decisions should be made by an individual based on medical advice and scientific evidence. While the current response of this decision has been the enactment of state laws to limit access to abortion and other reproductive care, it is essential for organizations like FASEB to highlight the unintended consequences resulting from this departure from legal precedent on: 1) equal access to quality health care; 2) education and development of a diverse workforce; and 3) advancement of scientific discovery and innovation.”

Approved by the FASEB Board of Directors July 12, 2022

Members of the SDB include experts in human development and reproduction; the society is committed to educating at all levels on these topics. The SDB is a member society of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

Society for Developmental Biology Supports Equality and Justice

(June 2, 2020) Through the years, the Society for Developmental Biology has steadfastly advocated for and promoted equity, inclusion and diversity. We actively and constructively oppose the forces that prevent marginalized people of color from participating and contributing to the betterment of our world through scientific research and education. We are heartbroken that the Black community has suffered so many injustices and we mourn the recent losses of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. In these trying times, we stand with others committed to safety, dignity and equality for all.

Society for Developmental Biology Response to Request for Information (RFI): NICHD Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2020-2024
Notice Number: NOT-HD-18-031

(February 15, 2018) We thank the NICHD for undertaking a revision of their strategic plan to respond to the important challenges and exciting opportunities to improve child health and human development, and for the opportunity to provide input on the proposal. As a scientific society comprised of a diverse set of developmental biologists, we have both highly relevant expertise to offer and a vested interest in the outcome. We applaud the broad focus of the proposed research themes, and are excited by the impact of translational research on human health. We are particularly excited about including the ever-increasing ways for human pluripotent stem cells to model aspects of human development and generate disease models. However, we are concerned that the crucial role of fundamental research in model organisms is not adequately emphasized in this proposal. Two major research directions in developmental biology, regeneration and birth defects, are also not clearly represented.  Read full letter here.

Opposition to House version of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (HR 1) increasing graduate student tax liability

(December 12, 2017) The Society for Developmental Biology Board of Directors and Committee members co-signed a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee opposing the House version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (HR 1) which eliminates Section 117(d)(5) of the Internal Revenue Service code increasing the tax liability of graduate students. This provision, which will treat tuition waivers as taxable income for graduate students, is not in the Senate version of the tax bill. As the conference committee made up of members of both the House and Senate meet to reconcile differences between their versions of the tax bill, SDB urges Congress to block all efforts to tax tuition waivers for graduate students.  The letter was sent to all members of the conference committee.  Read full letter here.

Society for Developmental Biology on NIH's Next Generation Researcher Initiative

(August 21, 2017) The Society for Developmental Biology sent a letter in response to the National Institutes of Health's Next Generation Researcher Initiative to NIH Director, Francis Collins and the directors of individual institutes that support SDB members' research (NICHD, NIGMS, NCI, NEI, NHGRI, NHLBI, NIAMS, NIBIB, NIDCD, NIDCR, NIEHS, NINDS). Read full letter here.

Society for Developmental Biology Celebrates Science

(March 23, 2017) On April 22, 2017, people from across the United States and around the world will march to celebrate science and encourage a public dialogue about the indispensable role science plays in advancing our society. The Society for Developmental Biology (SDB) believes in the free and open exchange of scientific ideas and supports reasoned, non-partisan policy-making based on sound evidence and experimental data. SDB therefore supports the mission statement and guiding principles of the March for Science and supports its individual members should they choose to participate. We also take this opportunity to affirm our commitment to public awareness of scientific knowledge through education, communication, and mutual respect between scientists and their communities. This commitment provides the power to best protect our health, strengthen the economy and jobs, and promote sound decision-making for the earth and its citizens.

Position Statement from the Society for Developmental Biology on Genomic Editing in Human Embryos

(April 24, 2015) The Board of Directors of the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB) and the Editors of its official journal Developmental Biology are very concerned about the recently published study applying CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology to human embryos (1). SDB supports a voluntary moratorium by members of the scientific community on all manipulation of pre-implantation human embryos by genome editing. Such studies raise deep ethical concerns on their own, and in addition could lead to unanticipated consequences if manipulated embryos were implanted into a womb and allowed to develop to term.  Read the full statement here.

Support for RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

(June 24, 2014) The Society for Developmental Biology sent a letter in support of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology to RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori.  SDB President Martin Chalfie expressed the Society's concerns about "recommendations formulated by a third-party 'Reform Panel' which may lead to disbanding of this very well-respected and productive Center destroying all the good it has done throughout the years."  Read the full letter here.

Support for San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA)

(February, 2014) The Society for Developmental Biology signed the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment.  This document makes "a number of recommendations for improving the way in which the quality of research output is evaluated."  The guidelines are a call to funding and academic institutions to avoid using journal impact factors as a "surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions."

Moratorium On Cloning Of Human Beings

(September, 1997 and January, 2003) SDB Members declare voluntary moratorium on cloning of human beings. About 25% of the members responded to the referendum and of these 93% said YES to the voluntary moratorium, 6% said NO and 0.2% abstained. We thank all members who took the time to send in their position and comments on this important issue. Please note that many of your comments have been incorporated into the background statement text.

The Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) subsequently adopted, unanimously, the resolution at the Public Affairs Executive Committee meeting and released a statement.

Statement from the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB) Board of Trustees on President Bush's Decision on Federal Funding for Limited Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.

(August 16, 2001) The SDB Board of Trustees is appreciative of President George W. Bush's decision to allow federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research on a limited basis. While the Board welcomes this opportunity given to scientists to investigate the potential and limitations of human embryonic stem cells, it has serious reservations on the extent of information that can be transferred to clinical applications obtained from studies restricted to the "existing sixty cell lines." The Board supports the establishment of a Presidential Council to oversee the ethical and research aspects, and recommends models such as the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) and the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).