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Musings

Genomic and stem cell policy issues: more alike than different?

Mary A Majumder

Author Affiliations

Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Genome Medicine 2011, 3:35  doi:10.1186/gm251

Published: 7 June 2011

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

In a comparison of policy issues related to genomics and stem cells, initially, the differences seem to occupy the foreground. After all, no one is seeking to criminalize the conduct of genomic research, whereas researchers working with human embryonic stem cells face the prospect of criminal penalties in certain jurisdictions. And, in the USA, a polarized political climate, and twists and turns in litigation centering on a statutory provision that prohibits federal funding of 'research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed' [1], have heightened a sense of insecurity in the stem cell field [2]. However, stem cell policy concerns have always extended beyond the embryo. Furthermore, with the expansion of work using human induced pluripotent stem cells, created without embryo destruction, it is becoming increasingly likely that policy discussion around stem cells and genomics will converge in significant respects. I would suggest that five areas of concern are salient to both fields: (1) communication, (2) consent, (3) consultation, (4) commercialization, and (5) clinical integration.