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Developing stem cell applications: What role for the private sector?

May 27 2008

Venue: The Board Room, Paterson’s Land, Moray House, St Johns Street, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ

Organised by: The University of Edinburgh ‘Talking About Stem Cells’ project team

An opportunity to learn about and reflect on issues raised by the commercial development of stem cell research … in two paired events:

During the first phase of the project, many of the groups we spoke to raised questions and concerns about the role of commercial interests in shaping the development of new applications from stem cell research. Some were sceptical about the impact of a ‘profit motive’ in relation to health applications and the wider public good. At the same time, some working in stem cell research pointed out that, because the field is so speculative, the costs of developing new technologies cannot be borne solely by the public purse: private sector players are needed in order to progress promising avenues. Yet even these ‘stakeholders’ voiced concerns – for example, about the appropriate boundaries between public and private sector funding, or about the ‘ownership’ of stem cell lines.

We have designed these paired events to bring together people actually working on commercial applications of stem cell research with any interested members of the public – including but not only people from patients groups – to discuss constructively any issues arising. We hope you will be interested in participating.

These events offer you a unique opportunity to:

  • learn more about the complex processes by which new technologies are being developed from stem cell research

  • question and discuss constructively any issues that might worry you about the role of commercial interests in developing stem cell applications

  • learn about what issues worry other people, be they ‘stakeholders’ or wider publics

  • and possibly, come up with suggestions to address some of these issues

Any conclusions of these discussions will be made available to the wider stem cell ‘community’ and relevant policy makers as part of our final research report.

The first event will be held on the evening of Tuesday 6 May. It has been designed to find out about the different routes by which various organisations are trying to develop new technologies from stem cell research, and to air your views on any issues which might concern you. There will also be an opportunity to decide which issues you would like to discuss in more depth in the second event. It will be held on the evening of Tuesday 27 May. We will have invited a number of major players in the field to be available to respond to your questions and concerns, but we hope the format of this event will be quite participant-led.,3567,en.t4.html