Proposals to use human embryonic stem cells for medical research have provoked intense social and political debate over the proper use of new scientific technologies. While public debate has focused largely on the acceptability of research using human embryos, this is only one of the many issues raised by stem cell research. If stem cell technologies—and the new human biotechnologies more generally—are to overcome political resistance by being seen as promoting rather than compromising human well-being, an informed public must fully engage in the debate over their proper development and use.

Stem Cells and Public Policy, a report in The Century Foundation’s popular “Basics” series, provides a concise, comprehensive overview of the implications of stem cell research for the development for public policy. It addresses critical questions related to stem cell research including the establishment of medical research priorities, the treatment of intellectual property rights, the role of religious and scientific institutions and the effective national and international governance of the burgeoning field of biotechnology.

Stem Cells and Public Policy was authored by Richard Hayes of the Center for Genetics and Society in collaboration with Pete Shanks and Marcy Darnovsky, under the direction of Leif Wellington Haase of The Century Foundation.