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.
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.
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.
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.
the SCN news release