Exploring the Black Box of Human Development: Scientific and Ethical Implications of Crossing the 14-Day Limit of Embryo Research
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For over 40 years, researchers have been prohibited from studying human embryos in vitro beyond the formation of the primitive streak, which appears about 14 consecutive days after fertilization. Now new research involving extended embryo culture and self-organizing stem cell-based embryo models are challenging the need to maintain this original 14-day policy limit. What are the scientific and ethical reasons, pro and con, for studying human embryos and embryo models beyond primitive streak formation? And how should changes to the 14-day limit be done responsibly?
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Insoo Hyun, PhD, is the inaugural Director of the Center for Life Sciences and Public Learning at the Museum of Science, Boston.
Previously, Dr. Hyun has held academic appointments at Harvard Medical School, where he was Director of Research Ethics and a faculty member in the Center for Bioethics, and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. He was also Professor of Bioethics and Philosophy at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where he taught undergraduate, graduate, and medical students for over 18 years.
Since 2005, Dr. Hyun has been heavily involved with the ISSCR (International Society for Stem Cell Research). He has helped draft all of the ISSCR’s international research guidelines and served twice as the Chair of the ISSCR Ethics Committee. His intellectual interests transcend stem cell ethics and policy to include emerging technologies in the life sciences and new strategies for community engagement in bioengineering. Dr. Hyun is a newly-appointed member of NExTRAC – a federal advisory committee that provides recommendations to the NIH Director and a public forum for the discussion of the scientific, safety, and ethical issues associated with emerging biotechnologies.
Dr. Hyun received his BA and MA in Philosophy with Honors in Ethics in Society from Stanford University and his PhD in Philosophy from Brown University. He has been interviewed frequently on National Public Radio and has served on national commissions for the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. Dr. Hyun is a regular bioethics contributor to Nature, Science, Cell Stem Cell, among many other academic and scientific journals.