Today’s launch of the Stem Cell Charter (www.stemcellcharter.org) is a landmark moment for stem cell science worldwide. As a researcher in the field, I have always believed in and adhered to the underlying principles included in the Charter,as do my colleagues and students.
But stem cell science is bigger than the labs, as is attested by the interest from patients awaiting treatment for a range of debilitating and currently incurable illnesses, the rapid growth of industry in this area, as well as almost daily coverage in the mainstream media. Because of this and because there is so much potential in stem cells that we have yet to fully understand, it is important we give voice to the principles under which we will advance the field.
The Stem Cell Charter articulates these principles – responsible science, protection of citizens, intellectual freedom, transparency and integrity. These are the cornerstone of the science – they separate responsible research conducted in labs from unregulated and unproven treatments sold by rogue clinics. The Stem Cell Charter, an initiative of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, was written by world-renowned bioethicist Bartha Maria Knoppers of McGill University, in collaboration with a working group of stem cell scientists, patients, ethicists and laypeople.
That this Charter originates in Canada is no small coincidence. Stem cells were discovered here nearly 50 years ago and we are recognized leaders in the field, not just in basic science, but in the formation of scientific networks and in the development of social, ethical and political frameworks. As part of the panel that developed the Charter, I understood the need to create a document that all people can support, irrespective of individual beliefs or geography. Because the Charter is about more than science – it’s about the health and future of humankind.
See also the SCN news release
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