National Academies Advisory: Committee on Stem Cell Research Guidelines to Be Established
The National Academies' National Research Council and Institute of Medicine are convening a new committee to provide updated guidelines on the conduct of human embryonic stem cell research. The committee will periodically update the guidelines issued last year by the Academies to reflect advances in stem cell science. The guidelines are voluntary and intended to enhance the integrity of human embryonic stem cell research by encouraging responsible practices. A number of scientific organizations and scientists encouraged the Academies to form the new committee, which will be funded by private sources, including the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that operate under a congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. Chartered as a free-standing advisory body, the National Academies operate independently of the federal government. Like all Academies committees, the new committee will serve voluntarily and must comply with the Academies' conflict-of-interest policy, and any reports issued by the committee will be thoroughly reviewed by outside experts before publication.
In addition to last year's report, Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, the National Academies also issued a 2001 report titled Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine, which said that public funding for research on stem cells derived from adults and embryos would be the most efficient way to fulfill the promise of stem cells for achieving medical breakthroughs, and that somatic cell nuclear transfer research, often called "therapeutic cloning," should be permitted. A 2002 report, Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning, called for a ban on human reproductive cloning aimed at creating a child, and supported the pursuit of somatic cell nuclear transfer research.