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July 17, 2003, Summary

NIH Stem Cell Task Force

Members Present:

James Battey, NIDCD (Chair); Arlene Chiu, NINDS; Della Hann, OER; Ron McKay, NINDS; Mahendra Rao, NIA; Allen Spiegel, NIDDK; John Thomas, NHLBI

Other Participants:

Tony Beck, NCRR; Laura Cole, NIDCD; Ruth Faden, Johns Hopkins Univ.; John Gearhart, Johns Hopkins Univ.; Daniela Gerhard, NCI; Tom Johnson, OSP; Jane Lebkowski, Geron Corp.; Thomas Okarma, Geron Corp.; Mark Rohrbaugh, OTT; Anne White-Olson, NIDCD; Baldwin Wong, NIDCD

I. Welcome

Dr. Battey welcomed the members to the sixth meeting of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force and also acknowledged the guest speakers that were in attendance.

II. Approval of June 5, 2003, Meeting Minutes

The Task Force members approved the minutes of the June 5 meeting, which will be posted on the NIH Stem Cell Web site at

III. Presentation by Geron Corporation

Dr. Thomas Okarma, CEO and President, and Dr. Jane Lebkowski, Vice President of Research, Geron Corporation, thanked the Task Force for the opportunity to present on the human embryonic stem cell (hESCs) initiatives currently underway at Geron. Dr. Okarma highlighted Geron's accomplishments in hESCs research, including characterization and qualification procedures, improvement of cell culture conditions, establishment of an EST database with Celera Genomics, genetic modification of hESCs, differentiation of 7 cell types, transplantation in 4 disease models, and development of clinical/regulatory strategies. Five of Geron's hESC lines were derived at WiCell, and Geron has negotiated the rights to distribute these lines to collaborating organizations.

Dr. Okarma also proposed ideas for the development of a hESC program to accelerate the development and clinical testing of hESC-based therapies using existing line on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry via a consortium between Geron, NIH and the research community. The Task Force discussed the proposal and will bring the proposal to their respective institutes for consideration.

IV. Presentation by The Bioethics Institute of The Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Ruth Faden, Executive Director of The Bioethics Institute at John Hopkins University and Dr. John Gearhart, Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Physiology, and Comparative Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, spoke to the Task Force about ethical issues on the clinical use of stem cells. Drs. Faden and Gearhart are co-directors of the Program in Cell Engineering, Ethics, and Public Policy (PCEEPP) at JHU. The PCEEPP is designed to address the importance, in both the conduct of research and the development of therapeutic applications, of the interface between the fields of cell engineering, ethics, and public policy.

Dr. Faden announced that many nations have published their own reports about the ethical use of stem cells in human trials. For example, Europe has established a "Eurostem" bioethics group. In addition, Germany, Sweden and Canada have established groups to govern the ethical, legal and social implications of stem cell use in human trials. In the U.S., the President's Council on Bioethics advises the President on ethical issues related to advances in biomedical science and technology. Some ethical issues concerning the use of stem cells in humans include the decision to donate human embryos for stem cell research and the creation of chimeras for research.

V. Working Group on Scientific Progress/Community Outreach of Stem Cell Research

Dr. Battey announced that the next working group of the Task Force will convene on July 23 to discuss scientific progress and community outreach of stem cell research. All Task Force members are welcome to attend.

VI. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m.


If you have questions about the Task Force, please contact:

Science Policy and Planning Branch
National Institute on Deafness
and Other Communication Disorders, NIH
Bethesda, MD 20892
Phone: (301) 402-2313
Fax: (301) 402-2265