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The University of Washington believes that research utilizing human embryonic stem cells is essential to expanding fundamental scientific knowledge of cellular and developmental human biology. The University has further concluded that such research offers a significant potential to develop treatments for a large number of serious and debilitating human diseases, disorders and health conditions, including genetic diseases, tissue injuries, and degenerative diseases such as heart disease, spinal cord injuries, and various diseases of the nervous system. It is the University’s policy to permit and encourage qualified investigators to engage in responsible and ethical research requiring the use and derivation of human embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human adult stem cells obtained from any source, providing the cells are obtained and the research is conducted with appropriate oversight and in accordance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (ESCRO)
The University of Washington (UW) established the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (ESCRO), which exists to review and approve research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESC). The ESCRO Committee review ensures that both institutional and public concerns regarding sensitive ethical, legal, scientific, and policy issues unique to hESC research are addressed.
ESCRO Policies and Guidance
University Policy GIM 36 on Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research is the governing policy for UW hESC researchers and is based on the following guidance and policy:
- NIH Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research
- Executive Order, March 9, 2009
- National Academies of Science (NAS) Stem Cell Information Guidelines and Amendments
- International Society for Stem Cell Research
Permitted Research Requiring ESCRO Review
Except as provided in the criteria below, all hESC research, including research involving the use or creation of a hESC-derived cell line, must be reviewed and approved by the ESCRO Committee prior to the commencement of the research.
Research Activities that are Exempt from ESCRO Review
The following Research and/or other activities are not subject to GIM 36, and are exempt from review by the ESCRO Committee.
- Research involving use of adult stem cells;
- Use of human cord blood;
- Transplantation of stem cells as part of recognized and accepted medical treatment for a disease or condition; and-
- Other categories of hESC research or activities that the Vice Provost for Research has made a written determination, after due consideration of relevant legal and ethical requirements, that such research or activities are appropriate for exemption from ESCRO Committee review.
- The creation and ex vivo passage of induced pluripotent stem cells does not require ESCRO committee review. ESCRO review is required if the iPSCs are pluripotent and are transferred into an animal or human, or are used to make an embryo.
- Certain hESC research activities, such as human reproductive cloning, are prohibited. See Prohibited hESC Research.