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Nature Reports Stem Cells: A Patchwork Quilt of Funding

Publication Date: 
November 01, 2007
Sarah Webb

Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences, discusses funding for stem cell research. Sarah Webb reports in Nature magazine:

A federal void fuels an expansion of state and private policies...


Each state that plans to fund ES cell research must create a system to assess and regulate grants. The NAS guidelines recommend having additional review panels specifically for stem cells, called embryonic stem-cell research oversight committees (ESCROs or SCROs), but they are not required. Some states, such as California, require SCROs, which are run at the institutional level, and so could create another layer in the regulatory system.

Hank Greely, professor of bioethics at Stanford University, California, compares the SCRO approval process with that of internal review boards for large multi-center clinical trials. "It will have some slowing effect compared to not having oversight, but I'm comfortable and confident that the slowing will be small and reasonable," says Greely, who chairs California's advisory committee on human stem-cell research and is the vice-chair of Stanford's SCRO committee. "For that oversight one buys public support — both financial support and political support — and reassurance for the public that things are being done in an ethically appropriate manner." Many major research journals currently require review of the research through SCROs, Greely adds.