Monitoring Stem Cell Research
Table of Contents
The President's Council on Bioethics
Monitoring Stem Cell Research is a report of the
President's Council on Bioethics, which was created by
President George W. Bush on November 28, 2001, by means of
Executive Order 13237.
The Council's purpose is to advise the President on
bioethical issues related to advances in biomedical science
and technology. In connection with its advisory role, the
mission of the Council includes the following functions:
- To undertake fundamental inquiry into the human and moral
significance of developments in biomedical and behavioral
science and technology.
- To explore specific ethical and policy questions related
to these developments.
- To provide a forum for a national discussion of bioethical
- To facilitate a greater understanding of bioethical issues.
The President left the Council free to establish its own
priorities among the many issues encompassed within its charter,
and to determine its own modes of proceeding.
Stem cell research has been of interest to, and associated
in the public mind with, this Council since its creation.
Taking up the charge given to us by President Bush in his
August 9, 2001, speech on stem cell research, the Council
has from its beginnings been monitoring developments in this
fast-paced and exciting field of research. The first formal
discussions of the science and ethics of stem cell research
took place at our third meeting, in April of 2002, where presentations
were made by two prominent stem cell researchers (John Gearhart
of Johns Hopkins University and Catherine Verfaillie of the
University of Minnesota) and an ethicist (Gene Outka of Yale
University), at a time when we were still mostly engrossed
in our discussions of human cloning. Over the course of the
following year and a half, even as the Council was preparing
the reports Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical
Inquiry (July 2002) and Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology
and the Pursuit of Happiness (October 2003), it was gathering
information on stem cell research and devoting increasing
portions of its meeting agendas to this topic, which was ultimately
discussed at six meetings (specifically, in April and July
of 2002; and in June, July, September, and October of 2003).
The Council heard presentations from numerous experts in
the relevant scientific, ethical, social, advocacy, and entrepreneurial
arenas, and received public comment, oral and written. The
Members engaged in serious deliberation throughout the process.
All told, fourteen sessions, of ninety minutes each, were
devoted to the subject at public meetings. Complete transcripts
of all these sessions are available to the public on the Council's
website at www.bioethics.gov.
The present monitoring report draws directly upon those
sessions and discussions, as well as on written material prepared
by Council members, staff, and consultants. As noted in Chapter
1, it is in the spirit of an "update" and contains no recommendations
We hope the report, with its overview chapters on the law,
ethics, and science of stem cell research, and its extensive
supporting material located in the appendices, will serve
as a source of clear, intelligible, and useful information
for both policymakers and the general public regarding the
current state of this important research and of the debates
that surround it.
In creating this Council, President Bush expressed his desire
to see us
consider all of the medical and ethical ramifications
of biomedical innovation. . . . This council will keep us
apprised of new developments and give our nation a forum
to continue to discuss and evaluate these important issues.
As we go forward, I hope we will always be guided by both
intellect and heart, by both our capabilities and our conscience.
It has been our goal in the present report, as in all of
our work, to live up to these high hopes and noble aspirations.
Leon R. Kass, M.D.