in helping to guide responsible conduct in this field. The Advisory Committee dedicated most of its August 7, 2009, meeting to hear input from stakeholders from the stem cell research community and from those who have experience with the implementation of the National Academies’ Guidelines; a list of these individuals participating in the meeting may be found in Appendix B.
One area of considerable discussion was the future of ESCRO committees, as most institutions that have been following the National Academies’ or other non-federal guidelines since 2005 have established such committees. Most participants in the August 7 meeting thought that ESCRO/SCRO committees5 play valuable roles and function in such a way that their elimination could leave gaps not filled by other oversight bodies (e.g., Institutional Review Boards, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees, Institutional Biosafety Committees). It was stated that ESCRO committees could continue to be useful in maintaining deeper expertise on stem cell research than is necessarily provided by these other oversight bodies. ESCRO committees could also be helpful in assisting research institutions in monitoring developments in the field of stem cell research. In light of these comments, the Advisory Committee agrees that the continued use of ESCRO committees is useful, especially in circumstances where new hES cells are being derived. Even for research with existing cell lines funded by NIH—and therefore subject to NIH guidelines and the NIH hES cell registry—ESCRO committees could also help institutions by providing needed expertise and training for the members of their other committees.
The stakeholders at the August 2009 meeting also discussed whether the National Academies should continue to play a role by maintaining an activity, such as a roundtable, that would allow periodic meetings to discuss knowledge and policy gaps, new problems, and contentious issues. It was suggested that, in the future, the uses of stem cells, as opposed to derivation of new lines, are likely to provide a larger share of any controversy or concern surrounding stem cell research. Stakeholders at the meeting suggested that the National Academies are viewed as providing a neutral setting for discussions that can help guide research institutions to make appropriate decisions about research, particularly in areas that are outside the bounds of NIH funding. Several guests stated that research using chimeras represents one such area of potential concern, but that other issues (e.g., stem cell-derived gametes) are also likely to emerge that may provoke controversy. Other topics identified as being potentially important in the future for stem