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Cambridge Reproduction

Human stem cell embedded in a 3D matrix, Cryo SEM

In March 2023, Cambridge Reproduction launched an ambitious project to develop the first governance framework for research using stem cell-based embryo models (SCBEMs) in the UK. The Governance of Stem Cell-Based Embryo Models (G-SCBEM) project is led by Cambridge Reproduction in partnership with the Progress Educational Trust and brings together scientists, legal scholars and bioethics experts, as well as representatives from major funders and regulators of this research.


What is the project trying to achieve?

Until the SCBEM Code of Practice was published, there was no dedicated regulatory framework addressing research involving SCBEMs in the UK.  SCBEMs are a very fast-developing area of research, and it is vital that guidance – both statutory and non-statutory – is able to keep pace with new developments. The absence of clear, transparent guidance in this area hinders research and risks damaging public confidence.

By producing a clear and comprehensive framework for governance of research using SCBEMs, the project aims to enable scientists to proceed with their research with confidence, while maintaining public trust in this area. The framework will promote responsible, transparent and accountable research using SCBEMs which can be widely adopted by scientists, funders and regulators. Having a common framework will also facilitate collaboration, especially between academia and industry. 

Ultimately, by supporting the development of new policy and governance, this project will remove current barriers to research involving SCBEMs, unlocking the potential for their use in both basic research and in translation. This will benefit researchers in academia, biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies involved in drug discovery and development, and patients, especially pregnant women.


Who is behind this project?

The SCBEM Code of Practice has been drafted by a Working Group, which brings together bioscience researchers, legal scholars, bioethicists and funders. The Working Group is chaired by Professor Roger Sturmey (University of Manchester). The wider project – which involves consultation of stakeholders, public engagement and wider impact – is steered by an Oversight Group comprising the leaderships of Cambridge Reproduction and PET.

The project is managed by Christina Rozeik, Programme Manager of Cambridge Reproduction. Sandy Starr, Deputy Director of PET, is acting as a specialist Project Consultant.

As this is an emerging area of research, the team has sought feedback from a wide range of stakeholders to determine the opportunities, areas of consensus and concerns posed by SCBEMs.


Who is funding the project?

The project is funded by small grants from the BBSRC Impact Acceleration Account and the University of Cambridge’s Impact and Knowledge Exchange fund.


What are the key project dates?

The G-SCBEM project began formally in March 2023. The findings from the SCBEM public dialogue were published in April 2024, and the SCBEM Code of Practice was published in July 2024.


I have some questions/I would like to get involved with the project!

We will be updating this section of the website regularly with information about the G-SCBEM project. In the meantime, if you have questions or if you are a researcher or other stakeholder who would like to offer feedback, please email Christina Rozeik.