New publication: Recognizing the ethical implications of stem cell research: A call for broadening the scope
How can we include the needs of patients and wider society into stem cell research? This article is a step towards understanding and recognizing the different implications of stem cell research.
The outcomes of stem cell research have effects on society, for example on the quality of life of patients who might benefit from new therapies. But we can think of countless other potential effects, and ask ourselves: What are they, and how do we find out? How do we ensure our research is done responsibly, and be sensitive to these impacts? What perspectives could patients and others offer, and how can we incorporate those in our research?
In this article, Assen and colleagues explain that stem cell research, like other innovative fields, has so-called hard and soft impacts. They argue that in order to gain a broader view of ethical implications of stem cell research on science and society, it is important to consider both types: The hard impacts are often discussed, but the soft impacts and the combination of both are key to broadening the range of ethical implications that are being considered.
Recognizing the ethical implications of stem cell research: A call for broadening the scope
Authors: Lars S. Assen, Karin R. Jongsma, Rosario Isasi, Marianna A. Tryfonidou, and Annelien L. Bredenoord
First published: 1 July 2021
Abstract: The ethical implications of stem cell research are often described in terms of risks, side effects, safety, and therapeutic value, which are examples of so-called hard impacts. Hard impacts are typically measurable and quantifiable. To understand the broader spectrum of ethical implications of stem cell research on science and society, it is equally important to recognize soft impacts. Soft impacts are the effects on behavior, experiences, actions, moral values, and social structures; these are often indirect effects of stem cell research. The combined notions of hard and soft impacts offer a broader way of thinking about the social and ethical implications of stem cell research and can help to steer stem cell research into a sociable desirable direction. Soft impacts enable researchers to become more aware of the broad range of significant implications involved in their work and deserve equal attention for understanding such ethical and societal effects of stem cell research.
Funding information: H2020 European Institute of Innovation and Technology, Grant/Award Number: The research has been supported by the iPSpine H2020 project (https://ipspine.eu) under the contract #825925.; Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Grant/Award Number: 310030E_192674/1.