Translation Challenges, Science, Policy and Stem Cell Research

TERM: October 2011 - March 2015

AGENCY: Stem Cell Network

PROJECT LEADERS: Professor Timothy Caulfield (U of A), Dr. Judy Illes (UBC) and Dr.Yann Joly (McGill)


Since its inception, stem cell research has been celebrated for its contributions to science. Significant attention has also been given to its potential to treat a wide range of serious diseases, and to the anticipated resulting economic benefits. Indeed, a focus on its clinical translation and commercialization has come to pervade funding agency mandates, government policy and messages in the popular press. The potential of stem cell clinical research is immense, and measured enthusiasm along with focused resources will facilitate the timely development of useful technologies. In order for such progress to be realized in an efficient and ethically sound manner, it is essential to identify and address the complex interactions in the move to the clinic. 

The interdisciplinary team leading this project will explore a variety of issues associated with the move of stem cell research toward the clinic, specifically focusing on the pressures that exist to clinically translate and commercialize scientific research. Using a combination of methods, this team will investigate the nature and degree of such pressures on the research community. They will identify the research ethics issues associated with clinical translation and will produce guidance to assist researchers and research ethics boards with resolving the relevant challenges. Additionally, they will examine the role media representations play, using emerging research tools to consider various media sources. Finally, they will assess the impact of translational forces on the professional migration patterns of stem cell researchers. 

Such research will yield robust scholarly data on key ethical and social issues associated with the clinical translation and commercialization of stem cell research, which will serve to provide practical, evidence based policy recommendations to ensure ongoing progress and momentum in the stem cell field. 

For any questions regarding the above project please contact Robyn Hyde-Lay.