Human embryo research is restricted in many countries to the first 14 days of development, a stage prior to the formation of the primitive streak—an observable, early step toward the forming of neural tissue. In 2016, scientists published the first reports on cultivating human embryos up to this time point, having stopped their research because of the restriction and for other nonscientific reasons. As a result, some scholars are now questioning the validity of the 14-day limit. Many experts believe the guidelines should reflect moral, ethical and societal considerations as well as scientific justifications, though uncertainty over how to address these issues when reviewing current policies remains.
At this workshop, distinguished scholars in the fields of developmental biology, philosophy, bioethics and public policy convened at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, to assess the 14-day rule for human embryo research from scientific, ethical, legal and social perspectives. The goal was to explore ethical frameworks that will inform national bodies and nongovernmental organizations in developing human embryo research regulations and guidelines.
Funding for this program was generously provided by a grant from the Brocher Foundation.
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