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What to think about embryonic stem cell research - Seeking Information and Consensus

August 09, 2017

The Center for Practical Bioethics convened a national roundtable on stem cell research January 14 in Kansas City. Participants included national and international experts representing government, leading academic centers in the United States and the United Kingdom, bioethicists and the medical and legal professions.

The agenda included an examination of scientific and ethical issues, a review of policymaking around embryonic stem cell research in California and the United Kingdom, and a discussion of efforts by the National Academy of Sciences to address this controversial issue.

At the end of the day, participants were asked "upon what can we agree?" Judge David Waxse, moderator for the day's discussion, pointed out both common ground and areas of consensus:

-- Language matters -- there needs to be more clarity and a common understanding about the science and technology of stem cell research, even among scientists.

-- Improve dissemination of known information - better understanding can be advanced by improving distribution of known information on stem cell research.

-- A rigorous debate is required - there is no simple answer. All perspectives should be considered with respect, even among those who disagree. This may not lead to agreement, but it will lead to better understanding.

-- Social policy and politics a difficult mix - The establishment of social policy on a conflicted issue such as this is best served through informed policymakers and legislators and a well-educated public.

The day-long session launched the Center's Science and Ethics Literacy Project, a two-year initiative designed to promote informed policymaking at the state level and to increase science and ethics literacy across the United States. A policy brief based on the national roundtable will be published in March, with a public forum set for late April in Kansas City.

Founded in 1984, the Center for Practical Bioethics is an independent organization nationally recognized for its work in practical bioethics. More than a think tank, the Center puts theory into action to help people and organizations find real-world solutions to complex issues in health and healthcare.

CONTACT: Lorell LaBoube, (816)221-1100
Email: llaboubepracticalbioethics