Human Stem Cell Research: Are There Scientific Solutions to the Moral Dilemmas? Part 3

Date & Time

Mon, 06/06/2005 – Tue, 06/07/2005



Part 3 of 3


Building directly on the dialogue about the moral status of the human embryo as discussed in our July 2004 conference, the Ethics Center organized an intensive, multidisciplinary panel workshop over a day and a half to examine the proposals recently presented to the President’s Council on Bioethics about possible alternative sources of human embryonic stem cells for research. Such alternative stem cell sources might resolve the conflict between the experimental need to use human embryonic stem cells and the concern of many that such experimental use requires the destruction of embryonic human life. The workshop resulted in a provisional consensus statement, and produced a series of ethical questions about these alternative stem cell options, which were then addressed by participants from the community during a luncheon session on June 7th. Each table at the luncheon engaged in moderated discussion of one of these questions, and in a wrap-up session, each table moderator presented the summary of this discussion to the entire group.



White Paper: Alternative Sources of Pluripotent Stem Cells


Adam L. Schulman
President’s Council on Bioethics, Washington, DC

Adam Schulman is Senior Research Consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics in Washington , D.C. As a member of the council staff since 2003, he has done research on a variety of bioethical topics, including preimplantation genetic screening of embryos; use of drugs to modify behavior in children; muscle augmentation and enhancement of athletic performance; life-extension and age-retardation; use of drugs for mood-brightening and memory-blunting; assisted reproductive technologies; human stem cell research; human cloning; and ethical aspects of aging, dementia, and end-of-life care. Recently, he supervised the preparation of the Council’s May 2005 White Paper Alternative Sources of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells. Dr. Schulman was educated at the University of Chicago (BA Chemistry), Oxford University (BA in Physics and Philosophy), and at Harvard University (MA, Ph.D. History of Science), and he has taught at St. John’s College in Annapolis , Maryland since 1989.

Evan Snyder
The Sanford-Burnham Medical Institute

Evan Snyder earned his M.D. and his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981. He completed residencies in pediatrics and neurology at Children’s Hospital-Boston and postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School. In 1992, Dr. Snyder was appointed an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1996. In 2001, Dr. Snyder was recruited to The Burnham Institute as Professor and Director of the Stem Cells and Regeneration program.

Alan Trounson
Institute of Reproduction and Development, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Professor Alan Trounson from Melbourne ‘s Monash University is one of Australia ‘s leading reproductive biologists. Alan completed his PhD at Sydney University in 1974, before being awarded a three-year Dalgety International Research Fellowship at the Agricultural Research Council’s Unit of Reproductive Physiology and Biochemistry in Cambridge , where he developed embryo transfer and pioneered embryo freezing techniques in domestic animal species. His work in devising culture methods for fertilization of human eggs and the development of the IVF embryo established IVF as a suitable technique for the treatment of human infertility that was adopted worldwide. His research has lead to continuing advances in IVF including sperm microinjection, embryo biopsy, oocyte maturation, and improved embryo freezing methods. He was awarded a Personal Chair at Monash University in 1991, and he has received numerous medals and awards for his contributions to medical research, including the Wellcome Australia Award, the British Fertility Society Patrick Steptoe Memorial Medal, and Singapore’s Benjamin Henry Sheares Medal in O&G, and the Bertarelli Foundation Award in Reproductive Health. He spends significant time overseas at conferences informing IVF practitioners and discussing his current research interests which include male infertility, ovarian tissue transplantation, and embryonic stem cells.

Derek J. van der Kooy
Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto

Beginning with a B.Sc. from University of Toronto in physiological psychology, Derek van der Kooy earned his Master’s in psychology and neuroscience from University of British Columbia. Following his 1978 doctorate work in anatomy, supervised by H.G.J.M. Kuypers at Erasmus Universiteit, Rotterdam, Derek returned to the University of Toronto and completed his Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor T. Hattori in the Department of Anatomy. Dr. van der Kooy then went on to Cambridge University, where he did postdoctoral research in neurochemical pharmacology with L.L. Iversen, then to further postdoctoral work at The Salk Institute in California with F.E. Bloom, where his research was focused on behavioral neurobiology. In 1981, Derek van der Kooy was appointed to Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto. He served as Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the U of T from 1991 until 2002. Currently Derek van der Kooy is a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology at University of Toronto, with cross-appointments to graduate faculty in both the Department of Medical Biophysics and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Professor van der Kooy’s lab carries out various neuroscience and developmental biology research projects. In 1994 his paper on neural stem cells in the adult mammalian forebrain was published in the journal Neuron. This work first established that adult mammalian neural stem cells were located in the subependyma of the forebrain lateral ventricle, where two types of lineage related precursor cells, progenitor cells and stem cells, were shown to be present. Proliferation of these cell types were characterized in further experiments that were reported in articles in Development and the Journal of Neuroscience. Of note, Derek’s lab produced the first report of stem cells in the adult mammalian eye, published in 2000 in Science. Further work, which was published in the journal, Neuron, 2001, documented how ES cells were shown to differentiate directly to neural stem cells through a default mechanism. Derek’s lab continues to investigate the nature of stem cells, embryonic and adult, the concept of immortal cells, and the differentiation of embryonic stem cells, which are capable of forming any tissue in the body, to neural stem cells. Derek van der Kooy organized the initial two years of the McLaughlin Stem Cell Rounds, a monthly meeting with seminar presentations of the pioneering research of stem cell investigators in the Toronto area, and guest speakers worldwide.

Howard A. Zucker
Clinical Pediatrics and Clinical Anesthesiology Columbia University

Dr. Zucker is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology, Pediatric Director of the Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Cardiologist, and Director of the Pediatric Transport Program. Dr. Zucker is a founding member of the Little Hearts Foundation and has traveled on medical missions to China with the Children of China Pediatrics Foundation, helping orphans in need of reconstructive cardiac surgery. He holds a B.S. degree from McGill University, and M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine, a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, and an LL.M. from Columbia Law School. In 2001, he spent a year in the White House Fellowship program as the fellow assigned to Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson. At HHS he worked on a range of issues, including genetics/tissue engineering, bioterrorism and public health preparedness, and formation of the Medical Reserve Corps. He next was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.