Members of the National Research Council’s Board on Life Sciences and members of the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Neuroscience and Behavioral Health independently decided in December 2000 that they should sponsor a workshop on the scientific and medical value of stem cell research. The Committee on the Biological and Biomedical Applications of Stem Cell Research was appointed to organize the workshop and to produce a report on the biology and biomedical applications of stem cells in regenerative medicine. (Appendix A provides biographical sketches of the committee members.)
The charge to the committee was as follows:
An appointed committee will organize a workshop on the biology and biomedical applications of stem cells. The workshop will examine several aspects of stem cell research, including: the biological properties of stem cells in general, the current state of knowledge about the molecular and cellular controls that govern transdifferentiation in cells originating from different types of tissues, the use of stem cells to generate neurons, heart, kidney, blood, liver and other tissues, and the prospective clinical uses of these tissues. The workshop will consider the biological differences of cells obtained from different sources, for example, embryos, fetal tissues, or adult tissues, and discuss concerns about the use of various sources of stem cells. The committee will produce a report that summarizes the workshop and the scientific and public policy concerns that present both opportunities and barriers to progress in this field.
The committee’s workshop took place on June 22, 2001, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.; Appendix B contains the meeting agenda and biographies of the presenters. Audio files of the speakers’ presentations will be available at the workshop Web site: www.nationalacademies.org/stemcells until December 31, 2002.
It is important to explain the limits of the committee’s charge and work. Although data and opinions in the scientific and other scholarly