To develop guidelines for the conduct of human embryonic stem cell (ESC) research that address the international diversity of cultural, political, legal and religious perspectives, the International Society for Stem Cell Research assembled a task force composed of experts in science and medicine, ethics and law from 14 countries.
The ISSCR Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research specify rigorous ethical standards for scientists working with human ESCs, and seek to promote responsible, transparent and uniform practices worldwide.
After intensive discussion held by international conference call and two face-to-face meetings, the task force presented a draft document at the 4th ISSCR Annual Meeting in June 2006. Feedback was invited and received from many individuals including the leadership of scientific societies and colleagues with expertise in research oversight. Responders endorsed the efforts of the society to promote responsible research practices and provided constructive criticism that was valuable in preparing the final document.
The ISSCR Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research call for special scrutiny of human embryonic stem cell research, define permissible and impermissible experiments, and specify rigorous ethical standards so that scientists worldwide can operate under a uniform code of practice.
To facilitate the translation of the guidelines into practice, sample informed consent documents for the procurement of materials for human ESC research and a sample material transfer agreement are also available for download.
With stem cell research so rapidly advancing, new ethical challenges and scientific dilemmas will arise that call for reflection and decision. The ISSCR leadership is committed to ongoing review and revision of the ISSCR Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.
In its Feb. 2, 2007, issue, Science magazine published a Policy Forum authored by the task force that provides a synopsis of the essential elements of the document.
Read the biographies of the members of the ISSCR International Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Task Force.