Update on Changes to NIH Requirements Regarding Proposed Human Fetal Tissue Research
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

April 16, 2021

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Issued by

Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)


On June 5, 2019, HHS announced that NIH intramural research that requires new acquisition of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted. Simultaneously, HHS announced new requirements for documentation and review by an Ethics Advisory Board of extramural research applications for NIH grants, cooperative agreements, and R&D contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions. On July 26, 2019, NIH issued NOT-OD-19-128, to inform the extramural community of the details of the requirements, which applied to new competitive applications submitted for due dates on or after September 25, 2019 and R&D contract proposals submitted to solicitations issued after September 25, 2019. On August 23, 2020, NIH issued NOT-OD-19-137, clarifying instructions for competing applications. On December 23, 2019, NIH issued NOT-OD-20-053 announcing an intention to convene an Ethics Advisory Board.

This notice informs the extramural research community that HHS is reversing its 2019 decision that all research applications for NIH grants and contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board. Accordingly, HHS/NIH will not convene another NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board. All other requirements described in NOT-OD-19-128 and updated in NOT-OD-19-137 for extramural research remain unchanged.

NIH reminds the community of expectations to obtain informed consent from the donor for any NIH-funded research using human fetal tissue (NOT-OD-16-033), and of continued obligations to conduct such research only in accord with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations, including prohibitions on the payment of valuable consideration for such tissue.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration
Telephone: 301-435-0949

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