The Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight ("ESCRO") Committee performs ethical and scientific reviews of all research involving the derivation and research use of embryos, human embryonic stem cells and certain activities involving non-embryonic stem cells, human neural stem cells, and human gametes. Its scope includes the use of anonymous materials that may not require consideration by an IRB. The Committee reports to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and is comprised of a diverse group of faculty members and other subject-matter experts in the areas of biology, stem cell research, genetics, bioethics and law.
The Harvard ESCRO, along with the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and the Harvard University Office of the Vice Provost for Research, convened a symposium on November 7th and 8thof 2016 to explore issues related to the responsible conduct of research with synthetic human embryos. The symposium featured wide-ranging discussions into the nature of these entities, the scope and rationales for research involving such entities, the ethical implications of such research, the role of ethics oversight committees such as the Harvard ESCRO, and the limitations of existing guidance for emerging technologies such as this.
On April 26, the ESCRO Committee issued a report presents the Harvard ESCRO’s views and findings reflecting insights gleaned from the deliberations of this convened group of scholars and members of the public, with recommendations for academic institutions and ESCRO Committees about how research involving synthetic human embryos could responsibly move forward, and what principles should guide ESCRO oversight and review, as well as potential restrictions on such research.