The Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee

The increased interest in human embryonic stem cell research (hESC) among the public, as well as within the scientific community, has been accompanied by concern and debate about the appropriate ethical standards that ought to govern the conduct of such research. Various agencies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the State of California, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine have issued recommendations and regulations to guide the way in which embryonic stem cell research is conducted.

Sensitive to this concern, as well as to the scientific promise and challenges associated with hESCs, the National Academies initiated a project to develop guidelines for hESC research "in order to advance science in a responsible fashion." The publication Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (2005) was the first product of this project. This report and the guidelines it contained called on institutions within which hESC is conducted to adopt regulatory requirements and to create oversight bodies for their implementation.

In the words of the National Academies Committee on Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research:

"...Because of the complexity and novelty of many of the issues involved in hES cell research, the committee believes that all research institutions conducting hES cell research should create special review bodies to oversee this emerging field of research.

Such committees will be responsible for ensuring that all applicable regulatory requirements are met and that hES cell research is conducted in accordance with the guidelines set forth in this report."

In California, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), created to direct and administer the research funds that become available as a result of Proposition 71, adopted the National Academies' Guidelines as interim regulations for its grant awards.

Building on the NAS guidelines, CIRM subsequently developed its own Medical and Ethical Standards (MES). These mandate that all investigators who receive CIRM funds adhere to its MES and require all institutions in which CIRM funded research is conducted to establish a Stem Cell Research Oversight (SCRO) committee. The legislature of the State of California has expanded the role of institutional oversight bodies by passing legislation (SB1260) that amends California's Health and Safety Code so as to require review and approval by a SCRO committee of all stem cell research, adult as well as embryonic.

The regulations detailed on this site ensure that all UC Berkeley research involving the use or derivation of human stem cells is conducted with the highest ethical and scientific standards, and in compliance with all applicable government regulations, UC policies, and the requirements of extramural sponsors.

The content of this site includes the UC Berkeley Stem Cell Policy, information about the nature and function of the the campus Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (SCRO), administrative procedures pertinent to grants for stem cell research, and the application form for stem cell research approval by the SCRO. We have also included links to useful resources in the area of stem cell research regulatory compliance.

For information about stem cell research being conducted at Berkeley, please see the website of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center.

If you have questions about this site, or about stem cell research compliance, please contact SCRO Administrator Lily Mirels.