FAQ Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Q: Why is stem cell research important for the Society?
A: The Society's mission -- to find cures for blood cancers -- is dependent on broad and
open-ended scientific inquiry. No one knows where the next breakthrough in blood
cancer research might occur. Adult stem cells are integral to our research program
because their use is a principal approach to therapy in leukemia, lymphoma and
myeloma. Adult stem cell therapy, although greatly improved, carries a significant
rate of mortality and morbidity, especially in older patients. Embryonic stem cell
research can accomplish several goals central to the Society's mission: (1) we can
learn how undifferentiated cells form mature functional cells and (2) we can develop
improved methods of transplantation that reduce mortality and morbidity from the
procedure, to near zero. The former process is disordered in the development of
leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. The latter result could revolutionize treatment of
Q: Does the Society currently fund any embryonic stem cell research?
A: No. The Society's current research portfolio does not fund any research with human
embryonic cells. However, since the Society's research grants are awarded based on
scientific merit, the Society can and should award grants in this area if the peer-review
process judges them of sufficient quality and all of the ethical guidelines proposed by
the National Research Council of the Institute of Medicine are observed.
Q: Why has the Society developed this position statement?
A: The public debate on this subject has intensified in recent years. As a leading funder
of medical research, the Society is increasingly asked for its position on this topic by
legislators, researchers, donors, advocates and patients. Because the previous Society
position paper on this subject (in 2001) attempted to address both the then new
guidelines for Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and the Society's
research guidelines, there was some confusion as to its intent. If the Society's view is
to be accurately represented by volunteers and staff, the 2001 position statement needs
to be clarified.
Q: How is this position statement different from the previous position statement?
A: The 2001 statement addressed the Federal guidelines for embryonic stem cell
research, which had recently changed with the new presidential administration. The
new statement is a response to the markedly decreased availability and use of
existing human embryonic stem cell lines accessible with Federal research support. It
also reflects the sense of the scientific community for the potential for this line of
research. The statement also supports the important ethical guidelines for human
embryonic stem cell research proposed by the Institute of Medicine.
Q: Where can I get more information on stem cells?
A: The Internet provides an excellent source of information on stem cells as well as the
current research and clinical studies that are being undertaken. Below is a partial list of
some valuable sites:
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) web site,
http://www.isscr.org, has valuable information and publishes a newsletter with
important information for scientists working in the field.
The National Institutes of Health stem cell web site, http://stemcells.nih.gov/index.asp,
has information on stem cells for the public, for scientists and on federal policies.
Internationally, the Stem Cell Network in Canada’s web site,
http://www.stemcellnetwork.ca, provides some excellent information.
The Stem Cell Research News web site, www.stemcellresearchnews.com, provides
information including an excellent list of stem cell related news articles.
The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) web site,
http://www.camradvocacy.org/fastaction/, has information on advocacy in the areas
of stem cell research and therapeutic cloning.
A web site that provides the clinical studies being conducted in the stem cell area can
be found at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Also see the ISSCR Sites of Interest page for a comprehensive listing of stem cell
related web sites.