National Academies Guidelines

Since 1998, the volume of research being conducted using human embryonic stem (hES) cells has expanded primarily using non-federal funds because of restrictions on the use of federal funds for such research. Given limited federal involvement, hES cell research has thus far been carried out under a patchwork of existing regulations, many of which were not designed with this research specifically in mind. In addition, hES cell research touches on many ethical, legal, scientific, and policy issues that are of concern to the public.

For more on each publication below, visit the Reports page.

Advisory Committee

In order to keep the Guidelines up to date, given the rapid pace of scientific developments in the field of stem cell research, the National Academies also established the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee in 2006 with support from The Ellison Medical Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

2005 Guidelines

In 2005, the National Academies released the report Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which offered a common set of ethical standards for the field. The report provided guidelines for the conduct of hES cell research that were intended to address both ethical and scientific concerns and to enhance the integrity of hES cell research by encouraging responsible practices in the conduct of that research.

2007 Amendments

The Advisory Committee issued amendments to the Guidelines in 2007, which are available in the report 2007 Amendments to the National Academies’ Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. This letter report clarifies earlier recommendations and conclusions, including the criteria for determining which stem cell lines it is acceptable to use.

2008 Amendments

The Advisory Committee issued additional amendments to the Guidelines in 2008, which are available in the report 2008 Amendments to the National Academies’ Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. The amendments offered in this report include guidance in response to recent scientific advances enabling the derivation of human stem cells from nonembryonic tissues, including cells known as “induced pluripotent stem cells,” and clarification on the types of expenses that can be reimbursed to women donating eggs for stem cell research.

Final Report and 2010 Amendments

As it did in 2007 and 2008, the Committee identified issues that warranted revision, and this book addresses those issues in a third set of amendments. Specifically, this book sets out an updated version of the National Academies’ Guidelines, one that takes into account the new, expanded role of the National Institutes of Health in overseeing hES cell research. It also identifies those avenues of continuing National Academies’ involvement deemed most valuable by the research community and other significant stakeholders.

The current (2010 amendments) version of the Guidelines can be read or downloaded for free from National Academies Press.