ND Expert: Law School’s Carter Snead says new research may end “intractable” stem cell debate

Author: Melanie McDonald

Just-published research on the generation of cells that function identically to embryonic stem cellshas solved one of the most vexed issues at the intersection of science, ethics and public policy,according to Carter Snead, associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame Law School and former general counsel of the Presidents Council on Bioethics.

Discovered by American and Japanese scientists, theseInduced Pluripotent State Cellsor iPS cellscould be used to cure disease and treat debilitating injury without the ethical and public policy controversy that accompanies human embryonic stem cell research, a process that requires the creation and destruction of human embryos and has led to the pursuit of human cloning. The research was published in two leading scientific journals:ScienceandCell.

The nation was morally and politically divided on the proper role of the government in regulating human embryonic stem cell research,Snead said.Now, researchers have developed the means to pursue their scientific goals in a manner that is both scientifically superior to prior approaches and ethically acceptable to all sides of what seemed to be an intractable debate about scientific freedom, the goal of alleviating suffering, and respect for human life. Their work is a model of ethical scientific research for a morally pluralistic society.

Snead’s research focuses on the intersection of law and bioethics. His scholarship explores the possibility, mechanisms and wisdom of the governance of science, medicine and biotechnology according to ethical principles.

In 2002 Snead accepted the position of general counsel for the Presidents Council on Bioethics. In that capacity, he advised the chairman and council members on the legal and public policy dimensions of numerous ethical questions arising from advances in biomedical science and biotechnology. He was the principal drafter of the council’s 2004 report,Reproduction and Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies,an assessment of the governance of the activities at the intersection of assisted reproduction, human embryo research and genetics. Snead continues to serve the council as an expert consultant.

From 2004 to 2005, he served as the chief negotiator and head of the United States delegation to UNESCO for the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (adopted in October 2005). Snead recently was listed in UNESCO’s Global Ethics Observatory, a worldwide directory of experts on bioethics, environmental ethics, science ethics and technology ethics.

Earlier this year, Snead was appointed (along with Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, chairman of the Presidents Council on Bioethics) to be Permanent Observer for the U.S. Government at the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI). In that capacity, Snead assists the CDBI in its efforts to elaborate international instruments and standards for the ethical governance of science and medicine.

_ Contact: Carter Snead at 202-607-0963(cell); 574-631-8259 (office); or_ " Orlando.C.Snead.1@nd.edu ":mailto:Orlando.C.Snead.1@nd.edu

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